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Cavs select Dion Waiters fourth overall in NBA Draft

By Jason Lloyd Published: June 28, 2012
Waiters, Dion
Dion Waiters was selected fourth overall by the Cavaliers in Thursday night's draft.

INDEPENDENCE: Dion Waiters is Kyrie Irving's new running mate, much to the surprise of many in the NBA.

The Cavaliers selected Waiters, the shooting guard out of Syracuse, fourth overall after the Charlotte Bobcats threw out the first surprise in selecting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist second. 

The pick means the Cavs have revamped their backcourt in the last two drafts, first with Irving last year and now with Waiters. While both Harrison Barnes and Kidd-Gilchrist had deep ties to Irving, Waiters said he knows the Cavs' Rookie of the Year, too.

"I've known him for a long time," Waiters said. "I can't wait to get out there with him. I'm very excited. I wish it started tomorrow."

Waiters instantly upgrades the Cavs' wing position, even though the move will be seen as shocking since the Cavaliers passed on Barnes, who went seventh to the Golden State Warriors. 

Waiters did not start at Syracuse in either of his two seasons there, although he played starter's minutes and often finished games. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he has a thick and stocky build and excels at getting to the rim.

He averaged 12.6 points and 2.3 rebounds this season and was called by one scout "the best scorer in this draft." 

The Cavs need it. They've had little production out of their shooting guard for years. This is the highest the Cavs have selected a shooting guard since Austin Carr was selected first overall in 1971.

The Cavs entered this draft believing they needed to get Irving another scorer to alleviate some of the burden. They believe they have that now, even though Waiters never worked out for them and he seemed genuinely surprised to be going to Cleveland.

"I didn't even talk to Cleveland," Waiters said. "I didn't even work out for Cleveland."

Waiters made headlines at the NBA combine earlier this month when he received a promise from a team in the lottery, packed his things and went home at the advice of his management team.

Waiters wouldn't say which team promised him, only that it wasn't the Cavs. They didn't feel they needed a private workout with him because they followed him throughout the college season.

Waiters said he never questioned the decision his agent, Rob Pelinka, made to pull Waiters out of the combine.

"I believe in my agent," Waiters said. "They've been in the game a long time and they know what they're doing. I know they've got my best interest. You can see, fortunately, it worked out for me."

This is the second consecutive year the Cavs shook up the top of the draft by taking a surprise at No. 4. They selected Tristan Thompson fourth last year, but Chris Grant's history of surprising people dates back much farther.

Grant was part of the Hawks' front office that used the second pick in the 2005 draft on Marvin Williams. ESPN reported on Thursday that Williams and Waiters are the only two players to be lottery selections despite not starting a single game in college. 

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said his style of play is comparable to Dwyane Wade and said Waiters might be the best player he's ever coached.

Boeheim, of course, also coached Carmelo Anthony.

"I'm an all-around player," Waiters said. "I feel I don't have any weaknesses in my game."

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