If you've been following the fluctuating draft stocks of potential lottery picks, one name you've probably heard a lot is Syracuse guard Dion Waiters. Waiters was initially thought to be destined to go in the second half of the first round but lately his prospects are on the rise. Chad Ford recently bumped Waiters all the way up to eighth on his top 100 which probably was at least partly due to an NBA general manager telling him that outside of Anthony Davis, Waiters may have the most star potential in the draft.
With that in mind, over the past few weeks I have heard more than one Dwyane Wade comparison for Waiters. While surprising, this comparison isn't that far fetched. Like Wade, Waiters is an excellent penetrator and ball handler whose aggressive play makes those two strengths stand out. Waiters has yet to develop a consistent jump shot and at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds doesn't traditionally fit into either guard spot – both of which were questions about Wade. That said, let me say that I think that a Wade-type player is the absolute utopian progression for Waiters.
Waiters' best attribute is his ability to score. As previously mentioned, he relentlessly penetrates and will aggressively attack the basket despite his size. Like many scorers, Waiters has a short memory and plays with confidence. As a sophomore, he nearly doubled his freshman scoring average to finish at 12.6 points-per-game on a loaded Syracuse team. Perhaps most impressive about that jump was that it was accompanied by a rise in shooting percentage (47.6 percent this year after 41.1 percent as a freshman). On the other end of the floor, Waiters' athleticism and tenacity make him a solid defender.
What could make Waiters is an intriguing option to many teams is the thought of him playing point guard. While he probably could never be a traditional point guard, he has shown flashes of being a very good passer (similar to Wade). But as we all know, being a good point guard goes beyond just being able to pass – things like leadership and unselfishness are arguably just as important. If scouts decide Waiters has a future as point guard, he could end up in the top 10.
Like every player, Waiters has his warts. Waiters has the ability to get open jump shots at will, but can he make them? In today's NBA, unless a guard can bring something else incredible to the table ala Rajon Rondo, he better be able to shoot. Waiters doesn't have the prettiest jump shot and he will probably need to work on his form to shoot consistently at the next level. He did shoot 36.3 percent from three as a sophomore, which is encouraging. Like any scorer, he shows flashes, but in the NBA consistency is the name of the game.
Not the ideal height to play shooting guard and lacking the instincts to play the point, many project Waiters as an "instant offense" type player on a NBA bench. While there is nothing wrong with that, those types of players don't usually crack the top 10. Expect him to go between 10-15, but if teams think his scoring abilities outweight his tweener status or that he can in fact play point, expect him to go in the top 10. Anything beyond 15 and he is a steal.