Give-and-go: Dion Waiters’ Home is on the Wing
Welcome to Give-and-Go! This is a series where we will point out some interesting numbers or film for the Heat in a short, easy, visual and digestible way. So, lots of pretty graphs and gifs. Yay, technology!
It’s always going to be short, so think of this as something you’d read when grabbing a coffee or waiting in line. Credit to @Heat_CM for coming up with the awesome name.
The score is 96-91, and the shot clock is winding down.
Ever so calmly, Dion Waiters sizes up his prey, the slightly hobbled, lanky Frenchman Nicolas Batum. He casually dribbles right, goes between his legs, gathers to the left, and rises up for the trey. It’s fitting that there was 4:20 on the game clock as the shot goes up, because the high-arching bomb blazes the net like Wiz Khalifa invited it to an afterparty.
It’s 99-95 now. Waiters has the ball again — this time at the top of the key — with 2:05 left on the clock. Batum is guarding Waiters again, forcing him to the left after a pseudo high pick-and-roll. Waiters does his dance, dribbling left to the beat of a song we’ve heard before. Batum thinks he’s doing his job; he takes away the drive and funnels Waiters backwards. But Waiters is home, now.
The game’s nearly over now; there’s less than 50 seconds left, and the score is 102-98. Waiters has the ball again. Of course he does. He looks trapped, smothered by Kemba Walker with the shot clock winding down. Only Waiters isn’t flustered; he’s at home, after all.
In these instances, home isn’t Philadelphia, the place he was born and raised. It isn’t even American Airlines Arena, the home of his current team, the Miami Heat. No; home is that left wing area behind the arc.
After an injury-riddled start to the season, Waiters has caught fire. In 2017 (26 games), Waiters has averaged 17 points, 4.6 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. Filter the start date to January 18th, the beginning of Miami’s improbable playoff push, and his numbers improve to 19.2 points on 45.6 percent shooting, 5.0 assists, and 3.6 rebounds.
The most notable bump in Waiters’ game has come from behind the arc. He has taken 135 threes since the turn of the calendar, knocking them down at a 41.5 percent clip. The majority of those attempts — roughly 35 percent — have come from the left wing. Spoiler alert: he’s been pretty darn good at them:
He isn’t quite Stephen Curry, who’s shooting north 49 percent from that area in the same time frame. He has, however, looked just as comfortable flinging all types of looks.
Open looks in transition? Bingo.
Spot-up looks off kick-out passes from drivers? You betcha.
Off-the-bounce, YOLO shots in a poor fool’s face? Darn skippy.
Kobe Wade Waiters is playing with even more confidence than usual. That would normally be disturbing — Confident Dion makes Mario Chalmers look like Kawhi Leonard — but it’s been working as of late. As he’s shown us in the Warriors game, the Rockets game, the Bucks game, and the second Cavs game, there isn’t much you can do when Waiters gets comfortable.
Waiters, like a lot of us, is most comfortable when he’s at home.