Dion Waiters finished his first preseason game against NBA competition 1 of 7 from the field.
He totaled two points, three assists, and four turnovers in 14 minutes.
Byron Scott said after the game that he eventually pulled Waiters with 10 minutes to go for what he called “a lack of focus”.
Prior to leaving the Canton Civic Arena last night, I spoke with the Cavaliers rookie. He was candid about his performance, introspective about his mistakes, but also confident in his ability to learn from the experience.
“My biggest takeaway from tonight is just learning not to rush”, Dion Waiters told StepienRules.com. “That’s the biggest thing for me right now. I found myself trying to force the issue a lot, and that’s just not going to work. I got to try to be more patient. I found myself out there sometimes tonight thinking too much. I just got to play my game and play the way I know I can play”.
The confidence with which Waiters can play helped make him the fourth overall pick this past June. Staying consistent with that confidence throughout the ups and downs of an NBA game is something he also knows he needs to maintain.
“When I missed a shot I put my head down tonight instead of moving on to the next play”, Waiters said. “I just got to keep my head up at all times and play through it. When I miss a shot, I just have to continue working. I know that I’m going to miss some shots and make some shots, but I’ve got to always find other ways to impact the game. Whether that’s getting rebounds or getting others involved, those are the main things for me right now.
But that’s why it’s preseason. I have an opportunity to work on those things, become more efficient, and just try to be calm and not get rattled in certain situations. So that’s the biggest thing I took away from the game today. Just make sure I let the game come to me and don’t try to come out there and force shots up.”
Waiters added that he does expect to be more comfortable as he continues to learn the new playbook, along with gaining a better understanding of how to play without the basketball.
“There’s a lot of plays and a lot different schemes”, Waiters said with respect to the new offense. “Coming from college, we probably ran around four or five plays, really, so it’s an adjustment. Coach wants me to learn how to play without the ball, so I’m learning how to put myself in certain situations where I’m able to be effective. That could take my game to the next level. Kyrie’s going to have the ball a lot as the point guard, so I got to find other ways to score.”
On my way out, I wished Dion good luck. He smiled, then said, “I’ll be ready on October 30th.”
You can count me as a guy who believes him too. Transitioning into the NBA game is a process. To that end, Waiters is making progress right now. Even if it’s not showing up in the stat sheet yet.