Waiters, who is somewhat of a meme/cult-hero, has had a turbulent career in the NBA up until this point. Starting out his career in Cleveland, alongside the likes of Kyrie Irving, to heading to OKC to play with Russell Westbrook and then spending the last four seasons in Miami where Waiters has finally outstayed his welcome.
Throughout his career, Waiters has often been both lambasted and praised for his outlandish confidence. A confidence that has helped Waiters survive and reach the NBA. A feat that seemed damn near impossible for Waiters who’s parents were both shot to death when he was 12.
That confidence is ingrained within Waiters, a confidence that led to Waiters screaming for the ball from LeBron James when they were teammates in Cleveland and a confidence that has gotten him reunited with James in LA.
On the court, Waiters has always been a capable ball-player and shot creator. Throughout his career, Waiters has consistently shot at just under or just over 40% from the field and 34% from 3. However, Waiters isn’t just a spot-up shooter. Waiters ability to create his own shot is probably what got him this gig over J.R. Smith.
However, as touched on before, Waiters unwavering levels of self-belief do often end up the reason he is labelled as a gamble. With this in mind, LeBron has a track record of taking these guys, like Waiters, and transforming them into valuable NBA role players on a championship level team.
The biggest example is perhaps J.R. Smith. Smith was plying his trade in China and was considered a joke before James made the decision to bring him to Cleveland in pursuit of a championship. Sticking with the 2016 championship-winning team, Richard Jefferson was considered to be done in the league, likewise Channing Frye. Both were huge contributors on that 2016 Cavs team.
Looking at this very Lakers team, Dwight Howard was a laughing stock before joining James in LA and has since become one of the best back-up centres in the league.
If Waiters can learn to prevent his confidence from manifesting itself into 30 shots a game – then why wouldn’t he be able to contribute on this Lakers team, severely lacking in shot-creating from the bench, and even win a ring?
Throughout his career, Waiters has constantly been in a battle with other ball-dominant guards. Eager to prove himself better or on par with the likes of Irving and Westbrook. Whereas now, in LA, Waiters isn’t fighting for recognition, he isn’t constantly struggling to become the face of the franchise. Waiters will now have a clearly defined role, with clearly defined aims, surrounded by veterans such as LeBron, Jared Dudley, Rajon Rondo and Howard.
As Waiters himself wrote in 2018 for the Players Tribune, ‘because of everything I’d seen and lost, I decided from a young age: You know what? I’m just gonna f***ing ball out.’ So ball out Dion, ball out.