When the Cleveland Cavaliers announced they had taken SG Dion Waiters with the No. 4 pick in the 2012 draft there was some vocal disappointment at the draft party in Quicken Loans Arena. This was compounded by the fact both widely popular Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were off the board by the time the Cavaliers were up. Still, the likes of Thomas Robinson and Harrison Barnes were available. Cleveland opted for Waiters, who after Beal, was the next best SG available.
With some fans still on the fence about him, Waiters was anything but impressive at Summer League in Las Vegas this past July. He looked sluggish and simply out of shape. It was not as if he had anything to prove, but being under the fan microscope having been chosen so high, you would think he would want to show the fans and the rest of the NBA what they missed out on.
In an interview with the Syracuse Post-Standard Waiters was asked how his Summer League went. He responded, "I played OK. I didn't play to my abilities, but I've approached that already and the reasons why. But I'm back, better than ever."
Waiters followed with "It's different for the NBA Draft, when you don't have to do nothing. It was a couple weeks between the draft and summer league. I still wasn't (in game shape). But now, you see me, there's a big difference."
While Summer League is nothing more than a first-look at draft picks and other young and inexperienced players it is still important to put your best foot forward. There are players with less natural ability that are fighting for just a chance at an invite to camp let alone a roster spot. Making a D-League roster would be an honor to most.
I respect the fact Waiters is admitting his Summer League shortcomings. It takes a big man to do that. Camp and preseason will give him a taste of what the NBA is really like. It will be up to him to prove he belongs and show the naysayers they were wrong.
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- Cleveland Cavaliers
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- Bradley Beal