Anyone wishing for drama involving rookie guard Dion Waiters and the Cavaliers is out of luck.
But if you’re hoping Cavs coach Byron Scott stays on top of his prized rookie guard, well, you’ll probably enjoy the 2012-13 season.
“I have a unique connection with Dion because I played that position,” Scott told Cleveland reporters, referring to his days as Magic Johnson’s backcourt-mate with the Showtime L.A. Lakers of the 1980s.
So Scott knows shooting guard. He won three NBA titles in that role. He also knows coaching, having been a head coach in the league for 12 years, including the previous two with the Cavs.
Meanwhile, Waiters is entering his first season after two years of coming off the bench at Syracuse. The Cavs made him the No. 4 overall pick in the draft.
It’s safe to say Waiters doesn’t know the NBA like his coach. In the Cavs’ previous preseason game, a 97-80 loss to Milwaukee, Scott proved it.
In that game, Scott gave Waiters the hook for failing to run a play that Scott diagrammed during a timeout. Then Scott scolded Waiters in the press.
Here’s the good news: Waiters gets it.
“I definitely needed that,” he said. “I gotta be more focused on the game. During the timeouts, if (Scott) draws up a play, I have to be able to execute it. That’s something I learned, and I take full blame for that.”
Waiters will get another chance Friday, when the Cavs play preseason game No. 3, vs. Chicago in Champaign, Ill.
Against Milwaukee, the play in question called for Waiters to cut to the basket. He stood instead. If it happens again, you can count on Scott to again remind him, and likely in a similar fashion.
“I told him the reason I’m going to be hard on him is because I played that position, and I see greatness in him,” Scott said. “He’s a rookie, he’s young. Like I’ve said, he’s come a long way in a lot of different departments.
“I’m going to stay on him, because I believe in him.”
For the most part, Waiters has looked like a rookie during training camp and the preseason. He gave a nice showing and made some big plays to seal a win Monday against Italian club Montepaschi Siena.
Then he shot 1-for-7 and scored two points the next night. If he’s like the majority of NBA rookies, it’s the type of joy ride that might continue into the regular season.
Waiters knows it, too.
“In this league, you have one bad game or things don’t go your way, you have another game the next night,” Waiters said. “So you automatically forget about it.”
Waiters has been coming off the bench behind C.J. Miles, a veteran of seven NBA seasons. It’s not ideal (every player wants to start), but it is somewhat expected.
“You gotta earn it; nothing is a given,” Waiters said. “It’s up in the air. You have to go out there and take it. Don’t ever get too low, don’t ever get too high. Just learn how to stay in between.”
He also seems to understand that he’s being guided by a man who has been there before in Scott.
“He won championships,” Waiters said. “I got everything around that I need to make me better. I’m learning every day.”
Scott said he has seen progress. But at the moment, that’s as far as Scott is willing to go.
“(Waiters) wants to have a chance to earn that position,” Scott said. “And like I told him, ‘Yeah, you’re gonna have to earn it.'”
• The Cavs have already arrived in Champaign, and tip off against the Bulls at 8 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised by CSN Chicago (DirecTV, Ch. 665), but not locally.
• The Bulls are without point guard and former NBA MVP Derrick Rose, who blew out his knee in the first game of the playoffs last season. Rose isn’t expected back before January. Some recent reports suggested he could miss the entire year.
• Waiters said the biggest difference between the NBA and the college game “is the speed, how fast it is.” Other than that, “it’s more about having confidence in yourself. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, (because) mistakes are going to happen.”
• Scott said he thought the Cavs played selfishly in the loss to the Bucks — but he’s not overly concerned after a good practice Thursday. “I know that it’s going to take some time,” he said. “I know we don’t have a bunch of guys on this team that are selfish basketball players. But (there was) too much dribbling, not enough passing and moving.”
• The Cavs need to cut three more players before the regular-season opener Oct. 30 against Washington. They waived guard Kevin Anderson and swingman Justin Holiday on Wednesday.