Should the Miami Heat be worried about guard Dion Waiters?


With Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters now dealing with a banged up elbow, many are questioning his capabilities.

The residents of Waiters Island haven’t always had it easy. And lately, the beautiful days have been few and far between. A stark contrast to the bright sunshine seen through the entirety of 2016-17.

Because after averaging 15.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game last season, and signing a four-year, $52 million deal this past summer, Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters has regressed.

It’s true that the 26-year-old has never been the most consistent of talents. Even last year, when he was putting up solid numbers, Waiters went from scoring just four points in 19 minutes against the Utah Jazz (November 12), to then recording 27 points in 36 minutes versus the San Antonio Spurs two days later.

But his super low-scoring games were rare. Even if it took 26 shots to get there, the Philadelphia-native would make sure he got his buckets in.

However so far, 2017-18 has been a different story.

While Waiters may still be averaging 14.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per matchup, his efficiency is down. And his performances are much more erratic. While he scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting in San Antonio on December 6, he then tailed just two points, shooting an abysmal 1-for-10 from the field in Mexico City against the Brooklyn Nets (December 9).

Nevermind when he went scoreless (shooting 0-for-10) versus the Indiana Pacers on November 19.

So is it time for the Heat to be worried?

Well, sort of.

Miami already had a right to raise an eyebrow when Waiters announced his decision to forego surgery on a tweaked ankle. Sure, this ensured he was ready to go as soon as the season started. But he knew he wouldn’t be at 100 percent. And that it would be a while until either the nagging disappeared, or he’d get used to it. Not exactly great news regarding a player who just received a pretty hefty deal.

Now, the fifth-year is nursing another injury: a banged up elbow. Having hyperextended it a week ago, Waiters is still dealing with the aftermath. Most recently just re-aggravating it while setting a screen on Monday night.

His reaction? Similar to his mindset regarding his ankle.

"“I don’t try to think about it. Me, I’m a no excuse guy. I’m whatever.”"

Unfortunately though, whatever won’t cut it on the court. A place where Waiters just hasn’t found his footing lately. Especially from beyond-the-arc, an area that the guard usually makes himself right at home at. While he shot 39.5 percent from downtown last season, he’s at 31.5 percent currently.

Have the Heat as a whole been dealing with inconsistency across the board as of late? Absolutely. Even Goran Dragic, who in the past has been solid as a rock, is struggling. But history is on Dragic’s side, whereas Waiters went from being Kevin Durant’s scapegoat with the Oklahoma City Thunder, to LeBron James’ via the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Making it understandable why some fans have already started to sell their properties on Waiters Island.

On the other hand, it’s never a good idea to count any part of Miami out. After all, 11-30 did turn into 30-11. With Waiters very much setting things off into motion with two back-to-back 33-point performances, including his famous game-winner over the Golden State Warriors.

Next: Strong 3-point shooting bolsters Miami Heat past Memphis Grizzlies

The Miami Heat may have reason to worry about Dion Waiters, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on him yet.