Dion Waiters signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in March, but he’s yet to log a single minute in the purple and gold because the team wanted to make sure he was in game shape after playing just 42 minutes for the Miami Heat. Waiters was set to get some reps in the G League with the South Bay Lakers in March, but the NBA indefinitely suspended its season two days before he was scheduled to make his debut.
Now, it’s been almost four months since the Lakers played their last game, and Waiters isn’t the only one that could use some warmup games. However, his new teammates (outside of J.R. Smith) have all played more than 42 minutes this season, whether it’s been in the NBA or G League, so he’ll still be at somewhat of a disadvantage from a conditioning standpoint.
From a talent standpoint, he’s as good as it gets, according to his new head coach, Frank Vogel.
“Well he shot the heck out of the ball yesterday, I can tell you that much,” Vogel said of Waiters during a conference call with reporters on Monday. “That was an encouraging thing, and he is working extremely hard, looks really good. I think, like J.R., both of these guys haven’t played in a lot of full-contact basketball in some time, even prior to the hiatus, so conditioning will be a concern. But the talent is obvious when you watch him work out, you watch him handle the ball and create shots off the bounce.
“He’s one of the more talented guys in this league,” Vogel continued. “If we can get these guys brought along at the right pace from a conditioning standpoint, I think both of them are going to help us.”
Waiters was the No. 2 shooting guard in the country coming out of high school and was a consensus top-five pick after his two years at Syracuse. In 2012, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Waiters with the No. 4 pick in the NBA Draft, ahead of names like Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond.
While it’s probably too late for Waiters to have the careers that Lillard, Drummond and a number of his 2012 NBA Draft classmates have had, he can still be an impactful player on a championship hopeful team like the Lakers. That’s especially true now that the Lakers could benefit from a guard that’s capable of creating their own shot in the absence of Avery Bradley.
In other words, don’t sell your property on Waiters Island just yet, because the market could boom in a big way over the next few months.