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Dion Waiters is finally putting things together

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After becoming a punch line to many, Waiters is looking to shed his bad reputation with the Miami Heat.

NBA: Preseason-Miami Heat at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It didn’t take long for Dion Waiters to go from exciting lottery pick, to the black sheep of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and shortly after, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Somewhere along his journey Waiters became a punch line, recognizable for his antics rather than his stellar numbers and impressive skill set. To be fair, it’s hard to forget things like this:

Fortunately, Waiters is taking the time to rectify his reputation and spark a career renaissance in Miami. For Waiters, it almost seems as if respect is more important to him than anything else, I mean he’s not making much this season (just $2.9 million) and his play in his preseason debut was impressive.

According to Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald, Waiters dropped 12 pounds in three weeks to prepare for training camp and in just one preseason game has shown enough to warrant excitement from Heat fans and players alike. One of the things that makes Waiters different (at least from his past seasons) is the fact that he’s been unselfish. Erik Spoelstra commented on his playmaking ability saying:

“I think he’s made a conscious effort to show this team that he can make plays. That doesn’t necessarily have to be scoring, but in space and in transition, where he can be a handful. Because of his ability to attack and get into the paint, we want him to be aggressive. We don’t want him to settle. We want him to really get two feet in the paint as often as he can.”

Waiters can be a difference maker on this Heat team as he’s in the perfect situation to succeed. Firstly, Waiters is playing with Goran Dragic, and at only 24 years old Waiters has the skills that should make Dragic salivate. Like Eric Bledsoe, (Dragic’s former teammate in Phoenix) Waiters is an athletic slasher, but is more than capable shooting the ball as well. In theory, they should have no trouble developing chemistry on offense.

Additionally, the offense is not as crowded in Miami. No longer does Waiters have to wait for Westbrook and Durant to get theirs, instead he pretty much has the opportunity to be a featured part of this offense right away. Waiters also has experience, in just four years he’s seen both the highs and lows the NBA has to offer. Waiters has played on lottery teams, and has also gone deep in the playoffs with OKC. He knows what it takes to win, but it’s really up to him to continue putting it together. However, if he keeps making plays like this...

...I think everybody can agree he will be well liked in South Florida.