Checking in with Luke Walton and some thoughts on Shaun and Dion

Highlighted by his epic performance down the stretch against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Luke Walton emerged as a potential candidate to soon enter my personal Hall of Fame for random Cavaliers to go on the most memorable runs in recent history.

Then, following Wednesday’s win over the Toronto Raptors, Walton officially joined that group headlined by the legendary Lester Hudson.

In his last two games, Walton has averaged 6.5 points, six assists and six rebounds in 22.5 minutes per night.

More important than the fact that he's essentially doubled his season long stat-line for each category, however, is that Walton has also helped lead a Kyrie Irving-less Cavaliers team to back-to-back wins in the process.

On Wednesday, Walton played critical minutes to help the Cavs' reserves out-score the Raptors bench 39-8.

His fit with that group, alongside Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights and C.J. Miles, is the first thing I asked Luke about following the game.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=

z2KSm29AXuo[/youtube]

Walton has now made 33 appearances for the Cavaliers this season averaging 16.1 minutes per night. What makes his recent tear most surprising is the fact that last season he played a combined total of only 30 games averaging 7.2 minutes. 

All of which led me to my next question for Walton, that I asked just after the local television news cameras dispersed having already acquired the requisite video of Luke Walton talking Cavs that their bosses are most certainly demanding these days.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=

VcbKgtojNt0[/youtube]

Those 16.1 minutes that Walton is averaging this season are the most he's played since the '08-09 season with the Lakers.

While plenty more is on tap from Luke, beginning this Friday at the Q, the only thing that could make this Luke Walton Era more incredible at this point is if his father Bill swings through Cleveland to catch a game before this season concludes. 


On Dion Waiters, Shaun Livingston and veterans who actually help young rookies develop 

Shaun Livingston has provided quality minutes for the Cavs since coming over off waivers from the Washington Wizards on Christmas Day.

But whether those minutes have come off the bench, or as the starter he's been in the last two games, that value is extending past his production on the floor.

Livingston is also providing the veteran leadership right now that teams around the league often refer to as a defense mechanism for why they’re awarding tons of minutes to NBA players who are well past their prime. 

The underrated acquisition of Livingston is specifically paying dividends in terms of Dion Waiters’ development recently, too. 

After Wednesday's win, unprovoked by a question from anyone about Livingston specifically, Waiters made it a point to credit Shaun for helping him improve the way he’s seeing the floor and approaching the NBA game on a nightly basis. 

That improvement is quantifiable, too, if you scroll back through Waiters’ game log. 

During the month of February, Dion Waiters is shooting 51.4 percent from the floor in 12 games, to the dismay of critics everywhere. He's also averaging 15.8 points for the month, after struggling through the pre-Livingston days of December shooting 36.9 percent. 

While certainly not all of Waiters' improvement directly relates to Livingston's tutelage, some of it certainly has to. I really don't see any reason for Dion to suggest as much otherwise. 

Following the Chicago game, Waiters became the first rookie this year to score at least 25 points in back-to-back games this season.

While I hopefully wished on Twitter last night that a third-straight 25-plus performance could warrant a Meek Mill Ball-Hard-D-Waiters-Themed Freestyle, Dion fell just short of that number in finishing with 23. 

For the last three games, that now gives Waiters an average of 24.6 per night. 

In the post game press conference, I also asked Byron Scott how Dion Waiters' development this season compares to the expectations he had for Waiters at the beginning of the year. Scott answered my question by saying that, “Dion has not exceeded my expectations so far, but he is getting very close to meeting them.” 

Next up for Walton, Waiters, Livingston and the rest of the Cavaliers is a home date with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and maybe even a three-game winning streak. 

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

Quantcast