Maybe Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters deserves a break

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 16: Dion Waiters
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 16: Dion Waiters /

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters has been heavily criticized as of late.

Dion Waiters is no stranger to being a scapegoat.

During his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he became LeBron James’. Only to then move onto being Kevin Durant’s, during his stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder. And now, it seems a fair share of Miami Heat fans are blaming the guard for the team’s early 2017-18 struggles.

Heat Nation has said it all. From accusing the 26-year-old of not playing as hard now that he recently signed a new deal, to calling him a ball hog, it seems there are less Miami occupants on Waiters Island.

The biggest complaint though? That he shoots too much.

But that’s how the Philadelphia-native gets his buckets. By taking advantage of every chance he has, to make a basket. Even if he doesn’t have a great look. Or a teammate is wide open.

Frustrating? Sometimes. Especially when he hasn’t had the hottest shooting hand so far that game. However, it was his 28 attempts that got him 33 points in 39 minutes, against the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 30. And his 24 looks, that resulted in 26 points in that win over the Boston Celtics on November 22.

And at the end of the day, when Hassan Whiteside is sidelined and Goran Dragic is going through a dry spell, someone has to take over on offense.

So what’s really got the critics talking?

Well, it’s more so his efficiency. Or rather, lack there of.

Upon the start of this season, people expected the Waiters they saw in the last 25 games of 2016-17, who averaged 18.4 points and 4.8 assists, shooting 49.3 percent from the field (and 44.8 percent from downtown). When the Heat made that historic 30-11 run. And finished 41-41, despite an 11-30 start. Even more so given that he was just handed a four-year, $52 million deal.

But so far, that version of the fifth-year has yet to show up. At least not consistently. For one, because he didn’t have ankle surgery this offseason, instead choosing to stick to rehab and working through the pain.

There’s also the fact that the scouting report on Waiters has clearly made its rounds, and defenders are figuring out exactly how to stop him.

"“Teams play you different” now. I’m getting more attention. You’ve got to adjust.”"

This has led the guard to decrease his drives to the basket, averaging only 3.3 attempts a game, compared to 4.9 last year. Which in turn, unfortunately, means more forced shots.

"“I’m laying back, not following through on my shot,. I know exactly what I’m doing wrong. When I shoot the ball, make sure I’m on balance and follow through. That’s my biggest thing right now.”"

Something you better believe Waiters is working to correct.

So while Waiters may not have started his 2017-18 campaign out strong, perhaps it’s time to give the guy a break, and be patient with his progress. After all, the entirety of the team has been struggling recently, without a doubt also impacting the guard’s performance.

Next: Miami Heat: Taking a closer look at forward Jordan Mickey

The Miami Heat haven’t given up on Dion Waiters yet, and neither should fans.