Dion Waiters has disappeared for the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Playoffs.
The Los Angeles Lakers have tied the series up with the Portland Trail Blazers and control their destiny into the next round. Game 2 involved an uptick in intensity from the jump ball that was not apparent in Game 1.
What is still troubling about the Lakers is not having someone else bring the ball up so LeBron James can go straight into the post and dominate. Dion Waiters played 15 minutes in Game 2 and it was already evident how much of a difference it makes not having to rely on LeBron to bring the ball up with constant pressure by Gary Trent Jr.
Waiters not only offers another playmaker/ball-handler, but he also adds shot-making and pure unwavering confidence that matters in playoff series.
A lot has been made about Waiters and his defense, but so far with the Lakers, he has shown the effort of fighting through screens and making it difficult to score. Another point is Vogel can make it easier for Dion on defense by matching Waiters’ minutes with Alex Caruso, who has shown the capability to defend both Dame and CJ.
Having multiple good defenders on the court with Waiters helps keep him on the floor, therefore gives the Lakers another playmaker to run PnR (pick and roll) with Anthony Davis. During the seeding games, Waiters and Anthony Davis were developing a great chemistry on how they would attack out of the PnR.
Finding minutes for Waiters will not just be important for this series but for the coming rounds especially for the top teams who game plan to stop your offense. Throughout the history of the league, each team that has ultimately won the championship has had an irrational confidence guy who comes off the bench and gives said team momentum.
Shot-making is a key component when your offense breaks down and you need to create something out of nothing. Yes, relying on Waiters can be dangerous but due to the roster construction and not jumping potential pickups like Trey Burke leads to this.
Vogel will have to trust Waiters if the Los Angeles Lakers want the most out of LeBron James. At age 35 and 17 years in the league, it doesn’t make sense to have James bring the ball up every possession, especially with Gary Trent Jr guarding LeBron for most of the series.
Vogel would be smart to realize that allowing LeBron to immediately plant himself in the post will eventually unlock the Lakers’ full ceiling.