The big surprise at the NBA combine this week – besides Austin Rivers growing to 6-foot-5 or Andre Drummond’s freakish measurements – was that Dion Waiters of Syracuse, a guard who drew some comparisons to Dwyane Wade throughout the college basketball season, abruptly pulled out of interviews and workouts with several teams.
The logical conclusion – somebody in the lottery gave Waiters a promise.
In my last two mock drafts, I had Waiters at 20 to Philly in March, and then bumped him up to 16 to Houston last month. Waiters seems to be right there with Jeremy Lamb and Austin Rivers in the shooting guard category. All three of them are in the mix to go anywhere from 8ish to 18ish. I consider Florida’s Bradley Beal a cut above all of them.
So who gave Waiters the promise? Early speculation was Toronto at 8, which seems a bit absurd. They already have a shooting guard in DeMar DeRozan, and he seems to be a better fit there than at small forward. Waiters ain’t no point guard. Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo quickly denied the Waiters-Raptors connection this morning. But it’s not like he’d confirm anything, so take that with a grain of salt.
The more likely destinations are Phoenix or Houston. The Suns are woefully thin at shooting guard, and according to this breakdown, Vince Carter, Shannon Brown and Michael Redd are all free agents. [Ed. Even though that database didn't update it, Carter was in Dallas.] It’s no secret the Suns will definitely be drafting a guard – the only question is whether it’ll be a point guard or shooting guard.
The Rockets also make sense. Kevin Martin and Courtney Lee have one year left on their contracts (and the Rockets have been trying to trade Martin for awhile). Chase Budinger had a nice season, but he’s a small forward. They’ll likely be drafting a shooting guard.
Then the question becomes: What does this mean for Jeremy Lamb (higher?) and Austin Rivers (he’ll go lower)? Both of those guys could lag behind Waiters in the interview department. Lamb’s a chill, sleepy dude who nobody views as a leader, and Rivers has been pegged as selfish and allergic to defense.