LAS VEGAS – Dion Waiters is enormously confident in his abilities to produce on the basketball court. It’s one of the main reasons why he’s one of the best young scorers in this league.
That’s why his response to a Twitter question asking if he would accept a role of coming off the bench -- following the Cavaliers drafting No.1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and the signing LeBron James -- should surprise no one.
Waiters replied an emphatically, “Nooooooooo.”
On Monday, following Day 1 of TEAM USA training camp, when CSNNW.com followed up on the matter, Waiters didn’t back down from his stance to be inserted into the starting lineup come next season.
“I want to start and I believe that I should at the two,” Waiters told CSNNW.com.
During Summer League, Wiggins, if retained, says he views himself as a shooting guard rather than a three, which is a smart thing to say considering the position that new guy plays. So, if the roster currently constructed is the roster three months from now, Wiggins and Waiters will be battling it out.
Never one to mince words, Waiters elaborated on why he felt it was necessary to let his feelings become known via Twitter.
“I just say how I feel,” he said. “I’m going to do whatever is best for the team, of course, but at the end of the day, I’m a man and I’m confident in myself. I’ve always been a guy that gives it right to you. I’ve never been a guy that plays that political stuff. I was brought up that way. I’m straightforward. I give my honest opinion. I’m not going to sit here and hide. They asked a question and I tell you.”
This isn’t to be taken the wrong way. Waiters isn’t demanding to be a starter. He believes he’s the right person for the job. There’s a difference, there. Nothing malicious intended and his new head coach doesn’t see anything wrong, either.
“I think that Dion is a guy that believes in his abilities and really, really wants to be a great player at the highest level,” Cavaliers head coach David Blatt said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I think that’s a positive that he desires to be an elite guy and really wants to win at the same time. That’s what’s important to me.”
Waiters just isn’t talking about starting, he’s putting in the work. He says he has lost 10-12 pounds since the last game of the season thanks to a new diet he’s dedicated to. The results are a lighter, more athletic 6-4 guard.
The addition of James is going to make life easier for Waiters and others. That’s exactly why he wants to make sure he’s in the best possible shape to reap the benefits of playing off of a first ballot future Hall-of-Famer.
“Expectations are going to be huge next season,” Waiters said. “Soldout arenas every night. We got to get used to that and enjoy the moment. We can’t get too high or too low. I think it’s a great opportunity for everybody. LeBron is arguably the best player in the game so I have to make sure I bring it on a nightly. I’m ready.”