The Cavaliers have heard it all.
They reached to take Dion Waiters with the No. 4 pick in the draft.
He was never even a starter in his two seasons spent at Syracuse.
He has never been the catch-and-shoot-type scorer the Cavs need.
He promptly got injured at the Las Vegas Summer League because he was overweight.
Well, as Matt Damon famously said in Good Will Hunting, how do you like them apples?
That was the rookie Waiters, in just his fourth NBA game, burning the Clippers with 28 sizzling points on a white-hot 7-for-11 shooting from 3-point range.
It was one thing to see the 20-year-old take the floor and look like an established veteran on Opening Night last week. But that was at home and that was against the Wizards. Since that time, Waiters has continued to look anything but overwhelmed, moving confidently around the court and moving the ball.
Well, let’s get one thing straight. Talent and ability had nothing at all to do with Waiters not starting at Syracuse. That was just a decision made by coach Jim Boeheim, who rarely went to the final minutes in Waiters’ two seasons with the Orange without having the ball and the game in his hands. Waiters was a star and big-time producer.
Cavs coach Byron Scott has been an ardent defender from the day Waiters was drafted, refusing to pigeon-hole him into either guard spot. He’s just a guard, Scott has said over and over. He just knows how to play. Just ask the Clippers.
The biggest adjustment that Waiters has had to make from college is playing without the ball in his hands now that he’s starting alongside Kyrie Irving. Yet the transition has been smooth as he’s worked on coming off screens and improving his footwork to get better shots.
On Monday night, the Cavs’ kiddie corps backcourt of Irving and Waiters doubled up the Clippers veteran backcourt of Chris Paul and Willie Green, 52-26. Cleveland’s duo made things look easy for much of the game and made the plays and shots that held off L.A.’s late fourth-quarter run.
In four games, Waiters is averaging 16.3 points and has hit 11 of 20 3-pointers, making at least one in every game.
Now we know why Scott has been ignoring the critics and nodding his head toward Waiters. One more bit of validation and a glimpse at a future that might require sunglasses.