INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Anyone wanting to lose weight and look great may want to take a cue from Dion Waiters.
Yes, that Waiters. The Cleveland Cavaliers guard whose conditioning has sometimes been questioned, fair or not, by fans.
Waiters has never been in lousy shape. He’s an NBA player. His job consists of jogging and sprints, and a frequent mix of both.
It’s just now, in the first week of camp entering his second pro season, Waiters looks like the “after” picture for a P90X ad.
He is, in a word, ripped.
“I’m almost where I want to be,” Waiters said. “What do you think?”
Waiters looks good, and according to his coach, he knows it.
“It’s evident by the skin-tight shirts he walks around in,” joked Cavs coach Mike Brown.
But this isn’t about vanity. It’s about putting the ball in the basket. Actually, when it comes to Brown, it’s about bending your knees, shuffling your feet and making every shot a nightmare for the opposition.
That requires being in tip-top condition. If Waiters isn’t there yet, he’s well on his way.
“I feel good. I’m jumping higher, my body feels good,” he said. “I did some yoga in the summer. Yoga is hard, harder than I thought. It was good for me, though.”
Waiters averaged 14.7 points and 3.0 assists last season as a rookie. He was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for February.
But like any first-year guy, he struggled at times to figure his role — when to shoot, when to distribute, how to play alongside All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.
This year, that role has been made very clear: Irving and backup Jarrett Jack are point guards. Waiters is a shooting guard.
“We have plenty of ball-handlers, plenty of guys that can play that position and run the team,” Brown said. “So now Dion’s job will be simplified.”
That doesn’t mean Waiters has to give up his creativity. It doesn’t mean he won’t ever have a chance to bring the ball up the floor. It just won’t be by design.
“If he rebounds the basketball, he’s got a right to bring it,” Brown said, before smiling. “So if he wants to bring it, maybe he might get nine or 10 defensive rebounds a game. That will give him nine or 10 opportunities.”
Waiters already seems to grasp and appreciate that notion. He already has made strides in his conditioning. That much is evident.
Now, he expects it to carry over on the court, where it matters most. Both physically and mentally.
“Just having a year under your belt helps,” he said. “What we went through last year, the ups and downs and coming back better than ever — stronger, faster. You know the game more. “I watch more film, try to watch the mistakes I made last year and how I progressed through the end of the season. I tried to watch everything. It’s just basketball at the end of the day, and just knowing what to do and what not to do.”
Added Brown, “Dion’s been great, he’s been terrific whatever we’ve talked to him about, he’s definitely embraced. I’m excited where he is
One of the more intriguing names attempting to make the Cavs’ roster at camp: Center DeSagana Diop, an 11-year veteran who’s made several NBA stops, including Dallas and Charlotte.
Diop was drafted by the Cavs with the No. 8 overall pick in 2001.
“I haven’t ruled anybody out yet,” Brown said. “If I’m looking for a big or if the bigs that have non-guaranteed contracts are the best fit to help us win, then I’m going to take the best one that I think can help us win.”
Diop has never averaged more than 3.0 points per game. He played in just 22 games last season with the Bobcats and averaged 0.7 points.
• Waiters spent the summer studying and working extensively on his jumper. “I tend to fade a lot, making the shot tougher on myself,” he said. “So this summer I worked on keeping my balance and following through.”
• The Cavs and Discount Drug Mart are teaming up to provide free tickets to the Cavs’ three preseason games at Quicken Loans Arena, beginning with Tuesday’s game vs. Milwaukee. Fans who use their courtesy card to purchase two 8-packs of Pepsi products at Drug Mart will receive six free tickets.
• Regular-season single game tickets to Cavs home games go on sale Saturday. Single-game tickets sold Saturday are available for the first 23 homes games.