Tonight’s NBA Draft lottery will be influential in deciding which teams can start jockeying for a chance at Dion Waiters. He’s all the buzz right now in league circles. After some monster workouts the question has gone from whether the Phily native would even be a lottery pick, to just how high he’ll go. Chad Ford, ESPN’s expert draft analyst and NBA insider, believes Dion’s stock is rising faster than anyone else’s right now.
“A number of NBA scouts who I really respect have been telling me for more than a month that the real sleeper in this draft is [Waiters]. One GM went even further. ‘There are really only two potential superstars in this draft. One is a sure thing – freshman Anthony Davis. The other one is Waiters. He can be an electric scorer in the NBA. There’s some Dwyane Wade in him.'”
Here comes another wave of D-Wade comparisons as NBA scouts start realizing the potential of Dion’s game. Ford even moved Mr. Swag into his Top 10 overall prospects list. While many other mock drafts rank Waiters toward the latter half of the 1st round, Ford thinks Dion is the ninth-best player coming out of college. Why the sudden rise? It’s not just his dynamic attacking play that earned him All-Big East honors this past season. Teams are thinking about drafting Dion as a PG, instead of as a SG, to possibly run their offenses.
Dion killed it in Las Vegas this past week during his NBA Draft workouts. He impressed nearly everyone who watched. He says the biggest thing he’s out to prove is that he can be a one-on-one defender (a knock many Orange enter the NBA with because of playing exclusively zone). But he’s insistent he’ll work until he becomes one of the best in the league. So Waiters has become a hot commodity in a draft dominated by big men. The lottery will be stacked with height. Just like Chandler Jones’ meteoric rise from a fringe first-rounder to Bill Belichick’s prized possession, all it takes is one GM to fall in love with Dion’s games.
Dion, not surprisingly, has huge confidence in a future at the point.
“I could definitely be a point guard [in the NBA]. If you look back at the tapes and see some of the games where I had 6-7 assists, [it proves] I can play PG at the next level. I have a scoring mentality, but at the end of the day, I think it could work out.”
There’s no question Waiters can log serious minutes running the show in the NBA. Some of the most exciting stretches this past season saw Dion playing a modified point with Brandon Triche or Michael Carter-Williams at his side. He’ll have the ball in his hands with a chance to create, either finding teammates or driving to the rim. Hence the comparisons to Wade or even Russell Westbrook. If you put him in a pick-and-roll offense similar to SU’s his comfort level will skyrocket.
Waiters’ game wasn’t overlooked this past season. He was arguably the best transition player in the country, and received major props for his ability to score at will. But teams are realizing how many other valuable ways Dion can benefit their squad. Whether it’s unleashing him in scorer mode, or running a half court set, he can be used in a variety of ways. He’s also matured an incredible amount from his early days on the Hill. As Dion admitted to Ford:
“I came to SU as a boy, and left as a man.”
It’s all-swag, 24/7 for Dion. Tonight we learn the order for which NBA teams will have a shot at landing him.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald