Miami Heat: Dispatch from Waiters Island, weathering the storm

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 1: Dion Waiters
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 1: Dion Waiters /

It’s time for the third installment of Dispatch from Waiters Island.

Some places are all-year paradise destinations.

You get to experience the subtropical paradise 24/7, three-sixty-five, basking in the sun. These islands get to thrive and build a year-round infrastructure that supports all of their residents’ indulgences. Do you want triples? You got them. Do you want basket penetration, followed by a quick pass to the open shooter? You can have that too. Do you want defense at a high caliber level? No sweat.

What I’m saying (with a very poor metaphor might I add), is that not everyone is a superstar.

We got spoiled last year when the Miami Heat tore off one of the most improbable runs in the NBA. You know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the stretch that almost got them into the playoffs. That stretch, during which playing the Heat felt a lot like trying to repel a Mongolian invasion. During that time, Waiters was enfuego, finally breaking out and delivering some of the best basketball of his career. As well as forming an extremely productive partnership with Goran Dragic (I know, it’s surprising that playing with a pass-first point-guard makes players better).

This year has been a somewhat more up and down experience for Waiters and the residents of Waiters Island though. The sunny days were fewer and further between, and I swear a used plastic bag washed up on my private beach yesterday.

But, we will rebuild.

While it’s been somewhat stressful watching Waiters try and come back to his form from the second half of last season, it’s not all gloom.

He’s shooting his best from the field (44.8 percent) and has a career-best effective field goal percentage as well (54.2). The best news here is that he’s also not settling. As of Wednesday morning, he’s taken 51 shots at the rim. That’s 44 percent of his total shot selection for the season, and if it wasn’t for his inclination to shoot 3’s from the left wing (19 shots), it would easily have been 50 percent.

So despite the struggles, Waiters is slowly figuring out his game and playing to its strengths.

He’s driving a lot more and he’s one of the best players on the roster at creating penetration. The next step, for him and head coach Erik Spoelstra both, is to improve his decision making at the rim. He connects on 59 percent of his drives, but becoming a better passer would up both his assist numbers and his efficiency at the paint, since defenders won’t just be able to clog the lane.

It seems that despite the early season shake-up, Waiters and Spoelstra have clearly identified the strongest foundations of Waiters Island and, should work hard to pour as much as they can into developing that infrastructure.

Next: The Miami Heat come out on top against the Phoenix Suns

The threes will come. After all, buckets don’t lie.