For the second year in a row, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled the first draft night surprise. After turning heads by taking Tristan Thompson at number four last year, the Cavs did it again by taking Dion Waiters from Syracuse fourth overall. In most Mock Drafts, Waiters was outside the top five quite possibly because he came off the bench for Syracuse in his two years with the Orange. To make things even riskier for the Cavs, once he was given a promise by a lottery team at the NBA Draft combine, he shut down all workouts. At pick number four, the Cavs goal was to give last year’s number one pick, Kyrie Irving, a running mate that he could grow with on the wing. That’s what they did. But in a franchise-defining draft, the Cavs are taking an enormous gamble on the explosive Syracuse shooting guard that never looked the part of a top five pick at Syracuse.
Dion Waiters joined ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland with Aaron Goldhammer to talk about how it feels to be the fourth overall pick in the draft, whether he was surprised that he went in the top five when so many mocks had him going later, if he worked out for the Cavs prior to the draft, what he thinks about the comparison’s to Dwyane Wade, what he thinks about the people that have a problem with him not starting and what he knows about Cleveland.
How it feels to be the fourth overall pick in the draft:
“It was a blessing. I just thank the man above every day to be in a position like this. It was great. I just know all the hard work, the dedication, the sacrifice that I put into the game and like I said I don’t stop here so I have to continue to keep working.”
Whether he was surprised he went in the top five:
“I don’t know honestly. I really don’t know because a team that likes you is going to pick you I think. Coming in I had been hearing a lot of things also so I just try to stay calm, stay cool and hear my name called.”
Whether he worked out for the Cavs prior to the draft:
“I didn’t work out for nobody. (Host: Did you talk to them at all at the combine?) Never even talked to them. Nope. I haven’t talked to them.”
What he makes of the comparisons to Dwyane Wade:
“I think it’s pretty accurate. Me and him play similar but it’s just great to be in that conversation with that guy. My goal now is to work hard and to be better than him. That’s what drives me and pushes me to be better than the guys in front of me now.”
What he would say to the people that have a problem with him not starting in college:
“It’s sacrifice for the team, to better the team. That was my first time ever not starting when I went to Syracuse so it was hard and it was something I had to adjust to for the team. I had to stop worrying about me and focus on the team. Whatever I had to do to make us a better team and me a better person I had to do it.”
What he knows about Cleveland:
“We played there my freshman year and it’s a great city. It’s calm, like a calm city and it’s great and not too far from Philly so my parents can come up.”