Originally written on Stepien Rules  |  Last updated 1/14/13
Dion Waiters came off the Cavaliers' bench last night to attempt 18 field goals in 26 minutes. He made seven, finished with 15 points and the Cavs lost to the Lakers by 20 in Los Angeles. The 7-18 shooting display from Waiters, to be fair, was certainly not without it's cringe-worthy moments.  It also marked the 18th time in 31 games that Dion shot less than 40 percent from the field for the night.  That level of consistent inefficiency is not good and obviously needs improve next season. At this point in his NBA development, though, with the Cavaliers currently leading the NBA in losses, there is no reason Waiters should not take each and every one of these field goals he's attempting. He can keep bombing until they start to fall as far as I'm concerned. Use the entire 2012-13 regular season to try and find an NBA rhythm if he has to.  Last night, the 21-year-old Waiters shot 38.9 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three. Not even after airballs that appeared punted up to the rim in the second half did he ever seem to think taking his foot off-the-gas was a reasonable option. Which is specifically why I continue to remain encouraged about Waiters' mentality moving forward. He has the potential to be an NBA scorer, but also wants to go out and get buckets too. This season he is learning how. Truth is, Waiters could've made five more of those 18 field goal attempts last night, finished 12-18 with 25 points instead, and the Cavs would've still lost by 10. Would I have been more encouraged about the rookie shooting guard if he'd done that? Of course, I guess. But I'm still fine with him approaching the absolutely meaningless game that last night was as an opportunity to improve as a scorer by attempting as many NBA shots as possible. Moving forward, though, there is no denying that Waiters will need to become more efficient. At 37.4 percent shooting from the field this season and 31.6 percent from three, Waiters is 7.4 and 4.2 percent below league averages for each category through Sunday. To recklessly lob out a comparison for the sake of discussion, Russell Westbrook shot 39.8 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from three as a rookie himself. Westbrook averaged 15 points that season for Oklahoma City. Dion currently averages 14. We also need to keep in mind that Dion is shooting like this for an organization that is making no effort to collectively win basketball games.  This isn't the same thing as Larry Hughes taking all the bad shots he did while the Cavs were trying to win. The only way you get buckets in this league is by letting the thing fly. Waiters is learning when, where and how he can best do that this season. It might not look to pretty right now, but it's all part of the process.
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