Dion Waiters is going to be important in the potential Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers series.
The Lakers will go up against the best isolation backcourt in all of basketball in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. They are a handful and it’s almost impossible to shut them down. Lillard finished the season averaging 30 points while McCollum poured in 22.2 points.
Waiters has averaged 11.9 points and 2.4 assists in 23.6 minutes in seven games with the Lakers. Waiters shot it at a respectable 43 percent and 88 percent from the charity stripe. The only concern is that he shot 23 percent from deep. Waiters is good enough at attacking the basket that he will be a threat at all times. He isn’t like a catch-and-shoot player who is “three or nothing”.
One of the keys to victory is that the Los Angeles Lakers can’t afford to let Lillard and McCollum rest on the defensive end. With Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope likely starting, they won’t have to do much on defense. That’s why Waiters must get heavy minutes against Portland.
Waiters is by far the best shot creator the Lakers have at the guard position. He can get his own offense in a hurry.
Playing Waiters big minutes will keep either McCollum or Lillard busy on defense which can have an effect on their offensive game. Since you are likely not going to stop them, the Lakers must make it a priority to tire them out. That’s why Waiters must see a lot of playing time.
While Waiters isn’t what you call a defensive stopper, you can throw him on McCollum or Gary Trent. Caruso or Green can be assigned to Lillard who will probably go crazy against them regardless.
The Lakers guards and wings must run Lillard and McCollum off the three-point line so they can settle for midrange shots and go into the paint where the Lakers are magnificent at protecting. If they can do that they should have no issue beating Portland.
Waiters might not be as important against the Clippers or a team like the Bucks but against Portland and a team with guards like Houston, he will be needed. Lakers can’t afford to just have guys like Danny Green and Caldwell-Pope who are less capable off the dribble.
The more you have Waiters on the floor, the easier things will get for their superstars and a player like Kyle Kuzma as well.