Dion Waiters and the Sixers were reportedly in talks earlier in this off-season but those talks fizzled. Now that he's unrestricted, should the Sixers reconsider?
Dion Waiters is an enigma. He can drop 17 on the Spurs in a meaningful playoff game or he can go 5-22 against the Spurs in the final game of the regular season. He can get hot and score 18 points on 9 FGA or he can go 4-19 with 7 turnovers in 48 minutes of back-to-back games. He can be a sieve on defense or he can actually make it work with the Thunder in the playoffs against the overwhelming Warriors of this past season.
In a market where Evan Turner is getting $17m per season, no one is biting on Dion Waiters. It's the strangest thing. There was some speculation that his demeanor and ..."confidence" might not match the vibe of a young team learning to play together and that's likely where the homecoming negotiation broke down. While that confidence has earned him the reputation of being a chucker, it's been widely reported that he began taking better shots (not so many long twos) and the results were improved value-stats.
Dion is 24 years old. While I praised the Gerald Henderson signing, I think Dion is probably a slightly better player and they're both probably better than Nik Stauskas. If nothing else, Dion is several years younger than Henderson and has a specific skill-set. He's an average three-point shooter who has zero issues with fear, meaning he'll throw 4 threes up every game and think nothing of it.
Remarkably, Stauskas is one of the few starting 2-guards in the league who shoots worse than Dion. Not a great sign for this coming season in Philly.
An important piece of the puzzle - from a fan's perspective - is that Dion is from Philadelphia. What better story could arise than Dion buying into a bigger-than-self process in the city where he grew up? He's made it clear that he would be happy to go back to his hometown even if it meant going from a playoff team to a not-quite-playoff team, and the Sixers are looking for another offensive weapon.
How do we know they're looking for another offensive weapon? Because last week we found out that the Sixers were responsible for the Spurs paying Manu Ginobili* $14 million. It was the Philadelphia 76ers who kept increasing the asking price for the Argentinian senior citizen, reportedly forcing San Antonio to pay almost three times their original offer. That's good business from the Sixers, but it also shows that they were serious about getting someone who can bring some scoring to the equation. Can Stauskas or Henderson do this?
It bears mention that he put that dunk in over Steph Curry, who isn't exactly an imposing rim-defender, but he also got the step on Draymond, who is an excellent defender. Really, when Waiters receives that pass, Green is still six feet away and manages to get beat to the bucket.
If you think I'm crazy, just imagine the roof blowing off in Philly when a fastbreak leads to a Ben Simmons no-look pass to Dion Waiters for his second straight three.
Obviously Dion is a bit of a liability on defense. Articles upon articles have been written that call out his shortcomings on that end of the floor, but you'd be shocked to hear that his defensive box +/- last year was -0.6. Yes, that's still bad, but it's the best of his career. He was actually a positive 0.6 in that same category in the playoffs. He's not going to end up on any All-Defensive teams, but he might be serviceable. And remember, JR Smith was always a "bad" defender until this season when he was called out for being the team's best non-LeBron perimeter defender.
Dion has a shot. I'm not sure the Sixers will actually give it to him, but why not take a flier on a hometown guy in what will be a very up-and-down season?
It's fun to talk about the two of them at the same time because it allows us to remember one of the most insane moments in NBA playoff history. Remember when Dion shoved Manu from out of bounds before passing the ball in?