For starters, Waiters fares well
Dion Waiters’ opening-night performance was encouraging in more ways than one. Not only did he score 17 points and hit a couple of big baskets in a 94-84 win over the Wizards, he outplayed the guy drafted one spot ahead of him.
That would be none other than Bradley Beal, selected third overall by the Wizards. Beal finished with eight points on 2-for-8 shooting. Mostly, he just generally looked like a rookie.
On one occasion, Waiters even stripped the ball from Beal in the open floor, then raced down the court for an easy dunk.
That right there is just an embarrassment for any player. (I know, because it’s happened to me.)
Anyway, the point here isn’t to imply Waiters is The Second Coming of Michael Jordan. Or that Beal will have a disappointing career. I actually think Beal will turn into a regular All-Star, perhaps the second-best player to come out of this draft behind New Orleans’ Anthony Davis.
But it just goes to show that rookies can be rookies — and I expect Waiters to have a few 20-point nights, followed immediately by a few three-point nights. It could even happen as soon as Friday at The Q, where Waiters will match up with Richard Hamilton and the Chicago Bulls (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio HD).
Either way, it won’t really matter. You can’t judge a young man’s entire body of work in one night. Or even one season.
So, Waiters had 17 points. He made 6 of 14 shots. He had the steal and the dunk. He hit a couple of three-pointers and went 3-for-4 on free throws.
How does that stack up against a few other first-year guys on their first nights? Well, let’s take a look. And keep in mind I said “take a look” and not “pass judgment.”
• Harrison Barnes. The No. 7 overall pick started, but played just 14 minutes for the Warriors in a road win over the Suns. He finished with six points on 2-for-5 shooting, and three rebounds.
• Jonas Valanciunas. The big man selected by the Raptors in 2011 (fifth overall) started and had a nice game in a home loss to the Pacers. Valanciunas finished with 12 points and 10 boards — the exact numbers put up by Cavs forward Tristan Thompson on Tuesday. Thompson was the No. 4 overall pick the ’11 draft.
• Terrence Ross. The Raptors swingman, selected eighth overall, played just six minutes and failed to score (0-for-2 shooting) in that Raptors game.
• Terrence Jones and Royce White. Both selected in the middle of the first round, neither got off the bench in the Rockets’ road win over the Pistons.
• Thomas Robinson. The No. 5 overall pick, a power forward, shot 1-for-3 and scored two points in the Kings’ road loss to the Bulls. Still, I predicted Robinson is gonna be a stud in this league, and I’m sticking to it.
• Anthony Davis. Well, it didn’t take long for Davis to show why the Hornets selected him No. 1 overall. They lost at home to the Spurs, but Davis finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Nice.
• Austin Rivers. In that same game, Rivers started for the Hornets and shot 1-for-9 for seven points in 24 minutes. Rivers was drafted 10th overall.
• Jae Crowder. The second-round pick has had two fairly nice games to start the season. He was one of the three picks the Mavericks traded to the Cavs for the rights to Tyler Zeller. Crowder, a strong small forward, already looks like a steal.
• Damian Lillard. The No. 6 overall selection moved right into the starting point guard role and quickly lived up to high expectations — scoring 23 points and passing for 11 assists in the Trail Blazers’ win over the visiting Lakers.
Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO