Beyond the Lottery: Dion Waiters

Syracuse sophomore Dion Waiters helped lead the Orangemen to a team-record 34 wins this past season. The 6’4”, 215-pound combo guard was selected as the Big East Conference Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 12.6 ppg and 1.8 steals per game in only 24 minutes.

Waiters considered leaving the ‘Cuse in his freshman year after getting off to a rocky start. However, once he decided to stay Waiters gracefully accepted his bench role.

Waiters can handle the rock as well as play off the ball. He’s an above average shooter with NBA range and can create off the dribble, find the open man and deliver the difficult pass, rarely turning it over.

Waiters always looks to push the ball up court in transition and has the exceptional strength and athleticism to finish at the rim even when fouled. The Philly product utilizes screens effectively, which should translate well to the pick-and-roll obsessed pro game.

Waiters possesses a Manu Ginobili-like ability to change direction suddenly with the ball and glide into spots that the defense doesn’t anticipate. He plays with a controlled electricity and can be unstoppable when he’s feeling it.

On the defensive end, Waiters can D up either the 1 or the 2. With active hands, fast feet, lower body strength and a high basketball-IQ, he defends well in isolation and is the player on the court who often comes out of nowhere to break up a pass, make a deflection or bring the unexpected double-team.

Waiters was originally projected to go mid-to-late in the first round, primarily because he’s not a true point or scoring guard. Also, he played almost exclusively zone defense under HOF coach Jim Boeheim and lacks man-to-man experience. But after an impressive showing in Vegas, the superstar sleeper has been buzzing up the ranks and may wind up being fished out if the 2012 draft pool earlier than first expected.