Dion Waiters is exactly who we thought he was: a reckless ball-dominant wing who despite his propensity for highlight-worthy plays ultimately tallies enough negatives to mitigate his chance at positively impacting the game.
Waiters’ efficiency has been abysmal, tied for 128th among 135 qualified wings in True Shooting Percentage (0.396), which takes into account free throws and 3-pointers. Considering fellow starting wing Justise Winslow is shooting the exact same dreadful percentage, it’s a recipe for an offensive apocalypse. It’s no coincidence the Heat rank 29th in the league in offensive efficiency, ranking ahead of only the process-driven, play-to-lose Philadelphia 76ers.
Unlike Winslow, a developing player in his second season who is still finding his way offensively, Waiters is who he is in Year 5 of what’s been a mostly disappointing career since being drafted fourth overall in 2012. They can’t have two highly inefficient scorers starting, logging major minutes and expect to roll out a semi-decent offense.
This leaves Waiters as the obvious and rational choice to see a major minutes reduction after averaging just over 31 minutes a night to this point.
The Heat is 2-6 on the season with games against the stifling San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks on deck. They are currently without Goran Dragic and his 48-percent shooting from 3-point land, further grounding the Heat’s offense. If there’s any desire to turn this offense around, the move has to come quickly.
Now if you were to tell me Waiters would only have two options while driving — shooting open layups or passing — I’d be all for this man getting some grind. But this is impossible unless Pat Riley figures out a way to hack a player’s brain (a possibility down the line), but in the meantime, for the love of the basketball gods, please give us less Waiters.
Who should be the recipient of those minutes if Spo cut them down to the 10-to-15 minute range? Mainly two guys, with both offering much-improved three-point shooting.
- Josh Richardson — He continues to show the goods as a 3-and-D rotation player and is a no-brainer to stick with Miami’s starters after Dragic’s return.
- Tyler Johnson — He offers a 48-44-83 (FG-3FG-FT) shooting split in 29.8 minutes a game and rarely makes boneheaded plays with the ball in his hands.
- Rodney McGruder — I’d even prefer McGruder, an undrafted 25-year-old rookie, taking Waiters’ minutes because of his ability to shoot (54% from three) and the fact he’s a low-usage player.
Now if the Heat’s goal is to quietly tank, then by all means play Waiters for 30-plus minutes every night because in no way is this player helping the team to this point. He’s a poor man’s Mario Chalmers and is impeding the development of some young and talented guards around him.
No más Waiters.