Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Waiters, Irving give us a peek into the future

Remember when the Cavaliers drafted Dion Waiters and everyone was like WTF? Well, we have now seen exactly how good a Waiters/Irving backcourt can be.

The Cavaliers went into Los Angeles last night and upset the Clippers. Had it not been for the Brandon Jennings game-winner over the weekend, they might be 3-1 right now.

Much of the game was basically a Kyrie/Dion/Andy showcase. Irving missed a few too many shots at the rim, but finished with 24 points and 10 assists. And he outplayed Chris Paul. Varejao scored 15 points and grabbed 15 boards. He's now second in the league in rebounding.

And then there was Dion Waiters. The rookie from Syracuse made seven three-pointers (out of 11 attempts) and finished with a game-high 28 points. He gives the Cavaliers something they desperately lacked last season: a non-Kyrie scoring option.

I'm not quite ready to put him into the "Dwyane Wade" column just yet; I think we're still going to go through a lot of growing pains with him. But man, the kid can play. And, just like Wade, he is not afraid of the big moment. Some of his shots down the stretch were a bit ill-advised, but he took them with confidence. He's got the talent, he's got the cojones, and if he puts it all together, he's going to be special.

Let's hope this is the start of something really good for this franchise. Maybe even something great. On draft night, many people (including myself) were concerned about whether Irving and Waiters could play together. Even though it has only been four games, I think we have our answer: yes, they can.

Now it will be about their development, and the development of the players around them.

Late in the fourth quarter, Irving hit a dagger three-pointer, an he immediately ran to Waiters and gave him an emphatic chest bump. Someday, we may look back on that as the moment when it all truly began. I couldn't help but think of Oklahoma City, and the incredible young foundation that they built. I couldn't help but think of how Durant and Westbrook and Harden used to love playing together. Thunder fans were incredibly lucky to have their franchise built around those guys; to be able to watch them grow up in front of their eyes and go from young and promising to the best in the West.

Will we be as lucky in Cleveland? Will Irving and Waiters be our Durant and Westbrook? Time will tell. But the kids have the game.

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