Reporting Daryl Ruiter
INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) - The Cavaliers hoped to move up to No. 2 in the draft but instead stood pat at No. 4 and selected Syracuse guard Dion Waiters.
The pick surprised many – especially with his name surfacing earlier in the day as general manager Chris Grant’s target at four.
It’s not often that a name floated on draft day turns out to be 100 percent legitimate.
It’s also the second straight year that Grant surprised with the No. 4 pick. Last year he raised eyebrows with the selection of forward Tristan Thompson who had a solid rookie season.
“We don’t really care where a guy gets picked as long as he’s the right pick for us,” Grant said. “If we feel good about it, we’re going to take the player.”
Waiters averaged 12.6 points in 24.1 minutes per game while scoring in double figures in 26 of 37 games last season coming off of the bench for the Orange.
With the Cavaliers, it’s not likely that Waiters will come off the bench. Instead he’ll be expected to be Kyrie Irving’s running mate in the back court.
“He’s like my brother,” Waiters said. “I’ve known him for a long time and I just can’t wait to get out there with him. I’m very excited.
“I wish it started tomorrow.”
The Cavaliers passed on North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes, who went seventh to the Golden State Warriors.
They also missed out on Bradley Beal. Cleveland was rumored to covet Beal but he went to Washington at No. 3 but the team believes it’s found the perfect running mate for Irving.
“I think he has something special,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said. “I think we got a steal.”
Waiters, who said he didn’t talk to or workout for the Cavaliers, was the Big East Sixth Man of the Year and also named to the third team All-Big East squad as a sophomore.
He raised some eyebrows at the NBA combine by leaving early on the advice of his agent after reportedly receiving a promise from a lottery team that he would be selected.
“I believe in my agent,” Waiters said. “They’ve been in the game a long time and they know what they’re doing. I know they’ve got my best interest. You can see, fortunately, it worked out for me.”
He’s considered to be an aggressive defender with a developing jump shot and is aggressive in transition.
“I’m an all-around player,” Waiters said. “I feel I don’t have any weaknesses in my game.”
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has compared Waiters to Heat guard Dwyane Wade.
“He knows his basketball,” Waiters said. “It was a great situation that I was able to be in. Coach Boeheim has a lot of faith in his guys and he taught me a lot at Syracuse which I’m thankful for.
“If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be in this situation today.”
Grant reportedly offered the Bobcats three picks to move up to No. 2 but would not confirm any talks with Charlotte.
The Bobcats turned a few heads when they selected Kentucky guard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second pick.
Not surprisingly New Orleans selected Kentucky forward Anthony Davis No. 1 overall and Washington took Florida guard Bradley Beal at No. 3.