Lakers Lead

How Dion Waiters Improves the Lakers

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The Lakers filled their open roster spot by agreeing to a contract with Dion Waiters for the remainder of the season. Waiters has a lot to play for, as he finds himself in a similar situation to Dwight Howard entering this season. He needs to prove himself both on the floor and in the locker room in order to extend his NBA career.

 

Waiters worked out in front of Lakers personnel prior to the team signing him, which suggests he is in good shape and ready to get on the court. If he is all-in on making the most of this situation, the Lakers are getting some much-needed help off the bench.

Ability to Create His Own Shot

Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Avery Bradley are all assisted on over 80% of their made field goals this season. Additionally, besides LeBron James (30.1%) and Rajon Rondo (28.8%), every other rotation player is assisted on at least 63.3% of their made field goals. This supports what our eyes have told us all season; the Lakers don’t have enough players that can create their own scoring opportunities.

 

This plays a major role in the team’s offensive struggles when LBJ isn’t on the court.

Insert Dion Waiters.

Last season, he was assisted on 58.1% of his made field goals, but every year before that he was well under the 50% mark. In lineups that don’t feature LeBron, the Lakers will no longer be forced into relying on Rondo to create scoring opportunities for everyone. Waiters will get himself shots, and has the ability to heat up very quickly. With spot-up shooters around him, he forces the defense into tough decisions.

Adding a dynamic scorer like Waiters means Kyle Kuzma will not be relied on to carry the offense as much anymore, which should increase his efficiency. How Frank Vogel staggers minutes will be interesting moving forward. Waiters should be utilized alongside AD while LeBron is resting, finally pairing Davis with an offensive-minded guard for these stretches.

More Shooting

The Lakers are right in the middle of the league in terms of 3PT%, knocking down 35.6%. In 3PT catch-and-shoot opportunities, they hit 37.9%, which is good for 10th in the league. These are respectable numbers undoubtedly, but there is no such thing as having too much shooting. This is especially true when you feature LeBron James and Anthony Davis offensively.

Many of the Lakers shooters are extremely streaky, which makes having options all the more important. We can add Dion Waiters to the list of Lakers streaky shooters. Last season in Miami, he connected on 38.6% of his C&S opportunities while playing off guys who attract far less attention than LBJ and AD. He can be asked to create offense in bench lineups, and is versatile enough to also play alongside the starters.

When the playoffs roll around, L.A. will benefit from having as much floor spacing as possible. Waiters can’t be left alone on the outside, so he could be asked to get minutes alongside the Lakers stars.

Hustle

Waiters has always showed bursts of hustle that can’t be taught. Now that he’s likely on his last chance in the NBA, expect him to show that hustle every time he’s on the court.

He’s shown he can be a pest on the defensive end when he puts his mind to it. Given the Lakers’ commitment to defense, he’ll have to invest on that end if he wants to log more minutes. Much like shooting, there is no such thing as having too many defenders. He has the ability to make defensive stops, and tends to do so with the kind of plays that energize the entire team.

Watch the hustle on this play– blocking two shots in one possession against Lou Williams:

The Lakers added a player that frustrates his opponents and is capable of injecting energy into an entire arena. The fact that he has something to prove suggests he will be going all out to make plays that help his team win games.

No Risk Move

The Lakers replaced Troy Daniels with Dion Waiters, which is a huge win given their need for his skill set. There is no risk in this acquisition given their ability to waive him if things aren’t working. What he potentially brings to the table, though, will be extremely useful moving forward.

After a quiet trade deadline, Rob Pelinka has improved his team significantly via the buyout market.

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About Garrett Brooks

I am a Sport Management student, with experience in Basketball Training, Analytics, and events. I spend a lot of time in the Basketball world, and I hope to share some of my insights with others.

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