The New York Knicks are interested in free agent shooting guard Dion Waiters. Here’s why they should and shouldn’t want him.
Dion Waiters had the best season of his career in 2016-17. Despite only playing in 46 games due to some injuries, he established himself as a candidate for a nice payday this summer. A recent report from Marc Berman of The New York Post suggests that the New York Knicks could be the team that gives Waiters his money.
According to Berman, Knicks acting president Steve Mills has coveted Waiters for years. It goes back to 2013-14 when Waiters was still in Cleveland. Mills was president of the Knicks for five months and attempted to trade for the polarizing shooting guard. In charge again, Mills’ feelings on Waiters obviously haven’t changed.
Mills and the Knicks aren’t alone in their fascination with Dion Waiters. He’s become a social media star as the concept of owning real estate on “Waiters island” has taken on a life of its own.
Hitting a game winner against the Warriors was a defining moment as was Dion crossing his arms in glory post three-point make became the stuff of internet legend. What a moment that was back in January.
Dion and his ardent followers who believe in him as an NBA player use the phrase in conversation. Despite all the criticism Waiters took during his time in Cleveland and Oklahoma City for being selfish, his fans stuck by him.
Apparently, Steve Mills was one of those believers. Let’s take a closer look at what’s giving Dion’s fans something to be excited about while simultaneously giving the Knicks a tough decision to make.
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The 25-year-old averaged 15.8 points per game, shot 42.4 percent from the field and a career-high 39.5 percent from three-point range in 2016-17.
Waiters has never been known for his efficiency, but last season was the most efficient he’s ever been. Not only was it his career-high three-point percentage, but as usual he was just slightly above 40 percent from the field.
Seasons like that don’t grow on trees. Not in New York anyway. The last Knick to score at least 15 points per game and shoot at least 39 percent from three-point range in the same season was Allan Houston in 2003-04.
The polarizing shooting guard also averaged a career-high in assists. By a long shot. Waiters averaged 4.3 assists per game while his second-leading number a measly three. Considering how much Waiters had the ball that’s not exactly a shock.
Knicks point guard Derrick Rose averaged 4.4 assists in 2016-17. Waiters dished out 200 total dimes to Rose’s 283. Keep in mind, Waiters played in 46 games and Rose in 64. Call him selfish all you want, Dion was dealing this year.
As previously stated, the ball is in his hands a lot. However, in New York’s case, that may not be a bad thing.
With Carmelo Anthony‘s impending departure on the horizon, the Knicks will need somebody else who can create his own shot. Dion was second on the Heat in time of possession, usage, and touches. If he’d remained healthy, he would’ve been a contender for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Most players wouldn’t want to hold that kind of burden (the one of replacing Carmelo Anthony), but Dion Waiters isn’t most players. Kevin Durant described Dion Waiters perfectly in one quote during an interview with The Ringer‘s Bill Simmons, “He truly, sincerely thinks he’s the best player in the league.”
Sometimes guys like that can kill you, but Waiters would be a help to the Knicks. While he started in 43 games during 2016-17, Waiters proved he can start and come off the bench. However, with the Knicks, he would be an excellent sixth man.
Their second unit was miserable last season on offense. So much so that they’d have to play Porzingis with them just to get some points from the reserves. They could use a guy like Waiters to help pick them up.
The Clips proved they still hope to remain competitive in West (why, though?) when they traded their newly-obtained first-round pick from the Rocket to the Atlanta Hawks in a three-team sign and trade, Houston netted Danilo Gallinari.
The man learned how to carry an offense this season. Miami scored 106.5 points per 100 possessions with Waiters on the court. They outscored opponents by 2.8 points per 100 possessions. That’s the best mark of any Miami player how logged at least 500 minutes (via NBA.com).
There are reasons to be concerned about the addition of Waiters too. As previously stated, he’s a career 41.3 percent shooter. Entering the season he was only 33.4 percent from beyond the arc. There’s an outside shot that 2016-17 was an outlier season.
The metrics are not spectacular on Dion. His PER (while a career-high) is just 14.5 which is slightly below the league average of 15. He was 25th in RPM among shooting guards. Waiters was ninth on the Heat in true shooting percentage (.507) and 12th in win shares per 48 minutes.
At the right price, however, Waiters is worth a gamble for this lowly squad. It’s all about the price. And the years of course.
New York will get some serious competition for Waiters from his most recent squad, the Miami Heat. After they missed out on Gordon Hayward, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra are look to put the full court press on Waiters.
The Los Angeles Lakers are also in play. New general manager Rob Pelinka was Waiters’ agent joining up to work for Magic Johnson. He has the inside track.
Every team needs multiple scorers, and in the likely event of a Melo trade, Waiters would give Kristaps Porzingis some needed help on the offensive end.