It wasn't too long ago when the name Dion Waiters was often accompanied by words like “selfish” and “ball-stopper,” but those times have come to an end.
After spending his two-and-a-half seasons in Cleveland, Waiters developed a reputation of a wanna-be star that didn't know his place, frustrated at playing second-fiddle to Kyrie Irving. Once he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 6-foot-4 guard picked up a new understanding for the game of basketball, sparking his career for the better.
“I learned how to win,” Waiters told The Oklahoman on Friday about his time with the Thunder. “I pretty much learned everything I know from OKC.”
“He changed his game,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “When he got here, the ball would stop when he'd get it. By the end he was really good at shooting open shots or driving and moving it. He was one of our best two-way wing players. He did a good job for us.”
Waiters was a fish in the Thunder's hook this summer, where the Kevin Durant shake-up changed every priority for the organization, now with Russell Westbrook becoming the primary target.
Upon Westbrook's extension, Waiters was forced to look elsewhere, ultimately landing in South Beach, inking a one-year, $2.9 million deal with the Miami Heat.
The Syracuse product has been reliable thus far, but will likely lose a lot of his borrowed minutes to returning starter Josh Richardson. If he continues to be a productive wing, he will carve up a niche with the organization, whether it is starting or coming off the bench.