Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 11/6/14
In last week’s Cavaliers Film Room, we broke down three end-game scenarios where the Cavaliers failed to execute in close losses. This week, we’ll focus on the team’s rookie shooting guard, Dion Waiters. We’ve seen some brilliant performances from Dion even in the absence of his playmaking partner in the backcourt, Kyrie Irving. On the other hand, there have been some incredibly rough shooting nights that have dipped his shooting percentage well below 40%. This week, I thought one quarter in particular (the second quarter last Friday against Atlanta) encapsulated a good sampling of all things Waiters thus far. Waiters dazzled in this second quarter with 14 points and 4 assists to help the Cavs keep pace with a vastly improved Hawks squad, trailing by just one with 1:17 remaining. However, Dion was also a big part of the 10-0 Atlanta run to close the half. The Cavaliers, you will recall, won this game with late heroics courtesy of an Alonzo Gee tip-in, but the Cavaliers don’t stay in the game without Waiters’s second quarter explosion. Let’s dive in, shall we? Let’s start early in that second quarter. Dion gets hot shooting the ball, which later sets him up to set up his teammates. The first shot that gets Dion going is nothing special, but it is one that he is quite proficient with making. Dion has the ball on the left wing with Samardo Samuels setting a pick on baseline side. It’s not exactly an all-world pick by Samardo, but it’s enough for Dion to get an edge against Jeff Teague and take Al Horford towards the basket.   Dion then does his stepback, gains separation, and fires the mid-range left corner jumper which he makes. As unorthodox as his body can look when he jumpstops and elevates to shoot it, you can see from the shot above that he corrects himself mid-air and shoots a balanced shot. There’s a good reason why the Cavaliers involve Waiters in so many pick and rolls. It’s because his scoring and distributing opportunities are maximized. He can certainly hurt you by scoring the ball himself. For instance, on this pick and roll with Varejao, watch how lazy Deshawn Stevenson and Josh Smith are in respecting the three-point shot of Waiters. Jumping the pick and roll is merely a rumor for Smith, and Waiters has a wide open three which he buries. When you do respect Dion’s outside shot, then he can start to attack the bucket and create for both himself and others. Let’s take a look at how he sets up his teammates for a couple of his four assists in the second quarter. Here, we have a pick and roll with Zeller on the right wing. The first thing I noticed is look at the opposite side. Sloan and Casspi are not just standing there. Instead, they’re moving without the ball, something you don’t see a whole lot from the Cavaliers away from the action. Do you think D.W. has their attention? Five sets of eyeballs are fixated on Dion as he takes it to the foul line against Anthony Morrow and Teague. Donald Sloan is open in the corner. Omri Casspi is open on the left wing. With one more dribble, the lob may be open to Tristan. Dion makes the right call. He kicks it to the hot-shooting Casspi who confidently buries the three ball.   Next, we have another pick and roll with Andy just a shade to the left of the top of the key. Varejao absolutely buries Stevenson with this pick. As a guy whose primary objective in the game of basketball was to set devastating screens, I can certainly appreciate this one. The pick is so solid that it takes Stevenson a while to recover. Horford splits the difference, but this picture shows that Andy is cleared for takeoff down the paint runway.   Nice try, Devin Harris. The chip down doesn’t work as Harris fouls him, but Andy powers through it for the and-one. He’s been running this pick and roll game for 8 years now, and Wild Thing’s only gotten better at it. One last play, this one really shows Dion’s potential in the transition game. The Cavaliers have no advantage here with Varejao and Pargo trailing the ball, but watch the move that Dion puts on Stevenson to set this play up. Holy cow! It’s hard to capture in a freeze frame, but trust me when I say that this hesitation move by Waiters jukes Stevenson good. Waiters heads to the bucket where he looks for his big man. Horford isn’t able to recover in time, and Tristan slams it home. Great spacing on the play, and kudos to Tristan for not getting this one blocked. I highlighted the good, but it wasn’t all sunshine in this quarter. Waiters airballed two three point attempts, including one at the end of the half that setup Ivan Johnson’s desperation three that went. He also was slow on some defensive rotations out to Deshawn Stevenson, who buried a couple threes in his face. Furthermore, the shooting stats are quite telling for Waiters’s shooting percentage woes. At a clip of just 41% inside 3 feet and 29% from 3-9 feet, it’s easy to explain the 36.3% field goal percentage. As I’ve mentioned several times already in the early going, Waiters is getting virtually no foul calls at the basket, despite being involved heavily in pick and rolls nearly every time down the court. In this second quarter, he did get sent to the line two different times after driving to the hole, but that hasn’t been a common occurrence. With the former Syracuse guard missing the last two games due to an ankle sprain, hopefully this can hold you over until the day-to-day Waiters returns to action. Until next time, however, the film room is closed!  
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