Miami Heat: Is guard Dion Waiters really playing a team game?

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 22: Dion Waiters
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 22: Dion Waiters /

Is Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters hampering the team?

Miami Heat fans have been split on Dion Waiters ever since he initially signed a mid-level exception deal in 2016. While some were excited to see what the underrated guard could bring to the table, others thought even $6 million for two years was pushing it.

And more than a year later, little has changed.

As supporters point out his numbers (the 26-year-old is currently averaging 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game) and demand he stop being the team scapegoat, critics are continuously calling for a trade, pointing to his contract as proof that it’s time for president Pat Riley to walk away.

Hate him or love him, the Philadelphia-native sure keeps people talking. Most recently ending up in the headlines, after he was asked about his ankle, a problem that has him sidelined once again.

"“I don’t know honestly [how long I’ll be out] but I don’t have me being out that long. Especially if I’m able to test it and things like that and see how I feel and if it’s to where I feel good I’ll go out there.”"

Of course, Waiters isn’t a doctor. And it’s exactly for that reason that he has so many people frustrated. Having sprained his already injured ankle last March, the guard was forced to sit out for the Heat’s final 13 games of 2016-17. But instead of taking care of the issue over the summer by having the recommended surgery, he decided to push through and play through the pain. A strategy that doesn’t seem to be panning out very well.

"“Until I take care of it and do what I’m supposed to do with it, even if I have the littlest sprain, it’s going to be like severe… It’s like pain, excruciating pain. Barely can walk.”"

And yet, Waiters won’t even consider an operation until the offseason, adamant that he can continue to play through it, like he’s been doing day in and day out. Except of course when it’s so bad he’s forced to miss games.

So where’s the right and wrong in all this? Well, that’s the thing.

Those who continue to believe in Waiters can absolutely applaud his determination to keep on, keeping on, no matter the circumstances. After all, he’s dealt with discomfort all season, and still managed to put up 22 points in 35 minutes on 8-of-12 shooting, against the San Antonio Spurs.

But there’s also an argument to be made that his refusal to properly treat his condition till later, is hampering the team now. A group of guys that have not only already had problems with inconsistency across the board, but have been forced to test out a bewildering number of rotations, due to various injuries.

Because while having an extra body available is always best in theory, it becomes more complicated when that body is ailing, and can’t always guarantee peak production.

Regardless, the good news is that even head coach Erik Spoelstra seems to cautiously think Waiters will return soon.

"“I don’t think it is as bad, but I’m also not a trainer or a doctor.”"

Next: Miami Heat with the bounce back win over the Orlando Magic, 107-89

Miami Heat fans may disagree on many things involving Dion Waiters, but it seems everyone is hoping he makes a quick recovery.