Dion Waiters is a polarizing player. While there’s no doubt the talent is there — which is why he was drafted with the No. 4 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft — his dedication to basketball has been questionable since the day he entered the league, and the easiest example of that is how much his weight has fluctuated over the course of his eight-year career.
Waiters isn’t in bad shape, as is the case for 99% of the NBA, but he’s not in the best shape he could be in. We know that because, at the end of the 2016-17 season, Waiters posted a before and after picture of his body, and it was evident that he put some serious work into his physique in his first season with the Miami Heat. It’s no coincidence, then, that the 2016-17 season is his most productive to date.
Unfortunately, all of the progress Waiters made was derailed by a nagging ankle injury that he eventually had season-ending surgery on in January of 2018. Waiters has been relatively healthy ever since, but a series of long-term suspensions kept him sidelined for all but three games of the 2019-20 season.
The Lakers planned on getting Waiters back into game shape by assigning him to the G League, but he never got to make his South Bay Lakers debut because the season was suspended. While Waiters waits for basketball to return, he told Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated that he’s trying to do what he can to get and, most importantly, stay in shape:
RN: When this all ends, whenever that is, what’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to doing on that first day?
DW: Just trying to hoop. Just vibe out and hoop. I’ve had damn near the whole season off. I’m trying to get back and hoop. I got something to prove at the end of the day. During this quarantine I’ve been dieting, getting my weight down, getting in shape. For me, it’s just playing basketball.
It’s been difficult for everyone to get in shape because all gyms — including the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo — are closed indefinitely. That being said, it’s nice to hear Waiters is doing what he can to prepare himself for the homestretch of the season, assuming there will be one.
The guard rotation is pretty clogged up as is, but Waiters can bring a dynamic to the Lakers’ bench that they don’t currently have. If Waiters can cross that initial hurdle of getting in game shape, he can be another valuable contributor to this team.