Miami Heat: Dion Waiters Making Strides Towards Career Redemption
The Miami Heat are the hottest team in the NBA. The driving force behind Miami’s success has been the most unlikely of players: Dion Waiters.
It could be argued that the 2016-17 NBA regular season is the most important in Miami Heat history. It’s the first season Miami has played without Dwyane Wade since he was drafted in 2003, thus marking the dawn of a new era.
As the Heat tear through the NBA with the most unexpected of winning streaks, the breakout star has been the most unlikely of players: Dion Waiters.
The Heat have won 10 consecutive games and Waiters has been the star of the show. During that 10-game run, he’s averaged 21.5 points, 4.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.9 3-point field goals made in 32.2 minutes per game.
Waiters has done so on an efficient slash line of .509/.527/.606.
For those who question the quality of competition, Waiters dropped 33 points and hit a game-winner against the 43-8 Golden State Warriors. He also scored 17 points in a win over the 37-17 Houston Rockets, and tallied 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting in a blowout of the 28-21 Atlanta Hawks.
Between his fearlessness in the clutch and his consistently strong scoring numbers, Waiters has taken strides towards career redemption.
Lest we forget, It was as recent as 2015-16 that Waiters was being labeled a draft bust.
Waiters won the 2012 Big East Sixth Man of the Year award and went on to be selected at No. 4 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. He was chosen ahead of fellow Top 10 selections Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, and Damian Lillard, as well as second-round gem Draymond Green.
It’s going to take more than a recent hot streak for Waiters to hear his name amongst his star-caliber peers, but he’s beginning to realize the potential he was believed to possess.
Waiters began his career on a high note. He averaged14.7 points per game as a rookie and 15.9 points per game during his second season, but the return of LeBron James to Cleveland ultimately resulted in Waiters being traded elsewhere.
Waiters never found his rhythm with the Oklahoma City Thunder, shooting below 40 percent from the field in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Following the departure of Wade, however, the Heat needed to find diamonds in the rough in order to build a competitive team for 2016-17. One of the low-risk gambles was the two-year deal worth just under $6 million that Pat Riley gave to Waiters, which includes a 2017-18 player option.
There’s just something about former Cleveland Cavaliers taking their talents to South Beach that seems to breed special results.
The redemption process is one that will take Waiters far more than just 10 games. He’s creating a resurgent pace, however, and appears to have found the ideal situation alongside Goran Dragic and within head coach Erik Spoelstra’s system.
The question with Waiters in 2016-17 is the same as it’s always been: will his success last?
If it does, Dion Waiters’ first four NBA seasons will soon be forgotten and the Miami Heat will have to open up the checkbook this coming summer.
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