I could tell you about Waiters’ ability to get in the lane and get to the line. Or I could tell you how he plans to honor those he’s lost along the way â€“ his best friend and several cousins â€“ with his own success.
“It’s just motivation,” Dion said. “It’s just something where I wake up every day with that on my mind. It just makes me want to go get after it, every day, and just work that much harder.”
I could tell you how lethal Waiters is on a pick and roll and a fast break. Or I could tell you how convincing he is when he says nobody in his path intimidates him.
“Nobody,” Dion said. “I mean, I’m from Philly, man. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a tougher city than this. Growing up, I saw a lot. At the end of the day, we’re all the same. We all bleed the same. We all breathe the same. So at the end of the day, I fear no one.”
The simultaneous beauty and frustration of the NBA Draft is the uncertainty of the whole endeavor. Except for a select few, there’s little way to know for sure how good anyone will really be in the long run. If there were, there wouldn’t have been Darkos, Odens or Kwames, and Kobe would have gone a lot higher than 13th.
But after watching Dion work out like a demon and hearing him discuss his various motivations, I have to believe his competitive drive gives him a leg up on other players who might coast on their God-given talents or reputation, expecting to reap rewards before they’ve been earned.
Depending on where he ends up, Waiters might have to begin his career as a high-volume defense and energy guy off the bench, a role similar to the one the Knicks cast Iman Shumpert in last season. That assignment wouldn’t be foreign; Dion thrived as a sixth man for Syracuse.
And yet, if Dion ends up being more than that right off the bat, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. He’s got natural talent, he’s battle-tested, he has a certain star quality and he has the dual gifts of determination and self-confidence.
“You only get one opportunity,” Dion told me in April, “and I’m going to take full advantage of mine.”
By any measure, I’m not inclined to doubt him.
Where do you think Waiters will be drafted?
Follow Bryan on Twitter at @SportsAngle.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.