What Can We Expect from Dion Waiters Next Season?: Some Statistical Projections

Dec 19, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters (3) drives to the hoop against Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Dion Waiters was a solid rookie for the Cavaliers this past season. Waiters started 48 of the 61 games he played this season, and outside of a knee injury that sidelined him for most of March, Waiters had a decent season, even on a bad team. But how much will Waiters improve next year? This is a tough question to answer, simply because with the coaching change, we don’t know how that will affect what Dion Waiters’ role in the offense will be. We’re definitely going to see better defense from Waiters in year two, that is a given. He also will probably see some shooting percentage gains as he learns better shot selection and becomes more comfortable in the NBA. However, many fans are speculating at Waiters matching the vast improvement we saw from Tristan Thompson this season. Here’s the leap Thompson made:

11-12 Thompson: 8.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 43.9 FG%, 55.2 FT%, 98 O-Rtg

12-13 Thompson: 11.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 48.8 FG%, 60.8 FT%, 108 O-Rtg

That being said, let’s try to figure out what a reasonable expectation for Dion Waiters’ 13-14 season would be. Thompson’s improvement probably isn’t replicable for Waiters. Thompson went from being a role player to a regular starter, playing about seven more minutes per game. Waiters probably won’t see the same minutes increase. This can be shown by stretching Waiters stats out to match Thompson’s statistical gains:

12-13 Waiters: 14.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 41.2 FG%, 31.0 3PT%, 74.6 FT% 99 O-Rtg

13-14 Waiters: 21.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 7.6 APG, 45.8 FG%, 34.5% 3PT%, 84.2 FT%, 109 O-Rtg

(I used Thompson’s FG% increase for Waiters’ 3PT% as well)

So Waiters, with the same statistical jumps TT made last season, suddenly becomes Dwyane Wade. I’m a tad skeptical of this happening in one season, with a new head coach. While I don’t think that’s an unreasonable end goal for Waiters, I don’t see him replicating Thompson’s jumps. Also, that makes Thompson’s jumps that more impressive. Instead, let’s compare Waiters to a player who had a similar rookie season to Waiters. Former 76ers and Sonics shooting guard Hersey Hawkins should work nicely:

88-89 Hawkins: 15.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 45.6 FG%, 42.8 3PT%, 83.1 FT%, 108 O-Rtg

89-90 Hawkins: 18.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 46.0 FG%, 42.0 3PT%, 88.8 FT%, 114 O-Rtg

Using Hawkins’ increases from year one to year two, Waiters projection for next season becomes this:

13-14 Waiters: 18.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 41.6 FG%, 30.4 3PT%, 79.7 FT%, 104 O-Rtg

I feel that this is a little bit of a better representation of what we can expect next year. With more consistent minutes and improved shot selection, Waiters should be reasonably more efficient next season, even if his shooting doesn’t get a whole lot better, which I think should happen. If Waiters does make the leap that Thompson made, that’s tremendous for the Cavaliers. If it’s more like Hawkins, though, that should still mean that Waiters will see some solid improvement, which will be great for Cleveland.

Topics: Cleveland Cavaliers, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson

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