Los Angeles Lakers: Dion Waiters vs. JR Smith

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

The Case for Dion Waiters

The most glaring advantage that Dion Waiters has here is age. Waiters is 28 years old, six years younger than J.R. Smith (34). Waiters has a lot fewer miles on his tires than Smith does. Not to mention that Smith has not played a professional game of basketball since 2018.

I am no car expert, but heavy mileage mixed with an abundance of rust does not seem like the best combination.

Waiters also, on the surface, fits more of what the Lakers need. He can create his own shot and handle the ball. In his limited appearances for the Heat this season, Waiters shot 47 percent from 3-point land and provided instant scoring for Miami.

Now, the reason his appearances were limited.

Waiters was suspended by the Heat on three different occasions this season. He was reportedly punished for violating team rules, violating team policies, and insubordination. Most notably, Waiters was suspended after consuming an edible weed gummy on a team flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles which caused him to have a panic attack.

This was all before Waiters was eventually traded to Memphis and reached a buyout with the Grizzlies. Now Waiters, a free agent, teams are skeptical to give him a look.

At his best, though, Waiters would be the obvious choice. He can score from all three levels of the floor, is a decent playmaker, and can be trusted handling the ball. He is, ideally, instant offense off the bench. In that role, he would succeed well with the Lakers if he was able to stay focused.

Waiters has higher potential as a defender than J.R. Smith, as well. Waiters is younger and a more willing defender than Smith. Waiters has shown the ability to fit into a scheme defensively, specifically in the second half of the 2016-17 season when Miami had the best record in the league.

In the last seasons that each of them played, Waiters had a better defensive rating by almost five points. In his three games this season, Waiters posted a 103.2 defensive rating, per NBA.com.

The real question here is whether or not the Lakers feel that Dion Waiters is able to play at his own highest level. He self-imploded in the early part of the season and Los Angeles would need to be certain that he will be on his best behavior if they sign him to a deal.

Waiters has ties, as stated before, with the Lakers. He is represented by Klutch Sports, which he has in common with, what seems like, half the Lakers roster. He also has a history with Lakers’ General Manager Rob Pelinka, the former agent was employed by Waiters before he moved to the front office.

The talent is there, the potential is there, the ties are there. Is it enough for the Lakers to take a chance on Waiters?