Dec 13, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) and shooting guard Dion Waiters (3) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers: Can Kyrie Irving And Dion Waiters Work Together?


Dec 13, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) and shooting guard Dion Waiters (3) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes things just don’t make sense.  We can analyze the numbers, watch the games, study the players, critique the plays, and still somehow be left confused.  Some players just naturally click and play with a cohesion that is simply beautiful to watch.  And at other times, players just don’t seem to work well together on the court.

When the Cavaliers picked Dion Waiters fourth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, the hope was that Cleveland had just put together it’s backcourt for years to come.  The Cavalier organization was hoping that he and Kyrie Irving would overwhelm teams with their speed, shooting, and scoring.  But to date, things haven’t worked out the way that they had planned.  To this point in the season, the two have shared the court together for a total of 894 minutes over 52 games.  For a little perspective, Kyrie has already been on the court for  924 minutes with Luol Deng…in just 31 games.

The Cavs have almost exclusively played them separately, with Dion coming off of the bench as a sixth man, as the two have averaged only 17.2 minutes per game together.  For this reason, fans of the team have started to pick sides.  Can the two mesh together long term?  Does Kyrie need a new backcourt partner in order to maximize his abilities?  Or, even, does Irving need to leave so that Waiters can reach his highest potential?  These are the types of questions that fans have been asking one another.

Dion has been a revelation over the last few games.  Fans have been amazed by the way in which he has taken over games.  Against Toronto, the ease at which Waiters attacked the basket and broke down the defense was a sight to be hold.  Against Detroit, he waited until the last possible second, jab stepped and took a fadeaway to win a game that Cleveland had no business winning.  He has looked like a brand new player.

But that’s just the thing…he has simply looked like a brand new player.  The stats don’t back it up.  His numbers have gone up across the board, but that is mainly due to an increase in his minutes.  If you averaged his numbers our per 36 minutes a game, they are almost identical to before Kyrie went out with his  bicep injury.  Per 36 minutes, he is scoring just 1.5 extra points per game, an extra 0.4 rebounds each game, and has improved his field goal percentage by 3.1 percent.  The big benefit has been found in his assist numbers, as he has gotten an additional 1.8 per game.  This benefit though has been countered by a failing three point shot which has plummeted by 14 percent.

These question then become, why don’t Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters see the floor together more often?  Both players like to have the ball in their hands and create their own shot, and both shoot better percentages from the left side of the basket (although Waiters does have a nice midrange jumper from the right side as well).

It’s not a matter of whether the two can play together…it’s a matter of whether they want to play together.  If so, they both have the skill sets to work together with the abilities to create for themselves and others.  As long as they are willing to put in the effort, they can help make the Cavs a team to be reckoned with in the future…they just need a shot.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Dion Waiters Kyrie Irving

  • Letterman007

    You failed to mention that since Kyrie has been out, Waiter’s attitude toward the team and the game has changed for the better and I mean a far better attitude then before! It is with this thought in mind that I think one of them must go! I just don’t see them co-existing on the floor together, no matter what each has said! If it’s going to be Kyrie leaving, I would do it before they offer that max extension !!

    • Matt Shantz

      I think there are a few things that make Waiters happy…playing time, shots, and an opportunity to have the ball in his hands. I think these things can still happen with Kyrie and Waiters on the same team, it just needs to be very intentional from the coaching staff.

      For me, this comes back to their willingness to work together, and also why the signing of Jarrett Jack made so little sense last summer. It’s okay to have two guards that need the ball in their hands (at points) to be successful…but to add a third in Jack?

      • Letterman007

        Unfortunately this coaching staff has done nothing to that end! I also believe that these two won’t work as a team enough to warrant then staying together! I’m afraid that one will have to go, they both demand the ball and to keep them, in time, will be too expensive and a luxury the Cav’s can’t afford! It would behoove the team to do something sooner rather than later while they both have trade value! I have my doubts that Kyrie can be the type leader this team needs, but then again who knows about Waiters?

        • Matt Shantz

          Doesn’t that put the failure on the part of the coaching staff, and not necessarily on the partnership of Waiters and Irving? The numbers seem to indicate that they could play together with the opportunity, and if they are willing.

          My concern lies more so with their willingness, then with their abilities. The impression that I get is that both view themselves as alpha dogs. This can be overcome though, as we have seen numerous times throughout the league. KG, Allen, Pierce, and Rondo did it, but it took them years of losing to be willing to see the benefits.

          LeBron, Bosh, and Wade came together much quicker, because they knew the benefits and it was ultimately their choice to come together. Kyrie and Dion were chosen for one another, rather than choosing each other.

          Can it work? I believe it can. Will it? Only time will tell.

          • Letterman007

            Two years and not much progress! I am not sure this team has the time it took Pierce and the gang to do it?? The city and N E Ohio area needs a winner and they have waited long enough! There is an owner that runs his mouth on twitter, making statements he can’t back up , then turns around and hires a coach that is about a useless as you know what on a bore!! Sure the defense is a little better, but the offense is a travesty ! This team is a big mess!!
            Sorry I just don’t see this happening with Waiters and Irving. Things would have to change drastically with this entire organization and with this owner , frankly I don’t see that happening!!

          • Matt Shantz

            I’m certainly not going to argue any of that. The organization has a lot of disfunction that needs to be sorted out. But I have to wonder, if those things are going to prevent Irving and Waiters to succeed together, wouldn’t that prevent any players from succeeding in Cleveland?

            Simply saying that one must go due to the disfunction of the organization, eliminates a symptom but leaves the disease. A lot of work needs to be done, but it isn’t nearly as easy a problem to solve as “Do these two players work together?”

          • Letterman007

            It’s just saying these two players, maybe, could work out ther differences and come together, but I doubt it and not only because of the management! They talk a good line about how they feel about each other, but I have my doubts, there would be more progress . If you check their minutes together and the scoring when they are sharing the floor, you will see what I mean!!

  • TV63

    Decide for yourselves instead of what the media feeds you.

    http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/video/2014/04/07/140407practicewaitersirvingfinal-3228317/