Waiters’ overall talent has never been in question, but what he brings to the table and whether or not that is vastly greater than what is already on the team’s roster is another question.
What Waiters does bring is the ability to score the basketball and create his own shot. After LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers do not have much as far as true one-on-one scorers, especially with Kyle Kuzma struggling so much and Waiters would help to alleviate that.
Additionally, Waiters is a solid playmaker who is capable of creating for others. He is not a natural point guard but did average 4.6 assists per-36 minutes in his most recent stop with the Miami Heat — a more than adequate mark. He also shot 36.8 percent from three-point range with the Heat, another above-average number that could benefit a Lakers team that is still in need of reliable shooting.
Arguably Waiters’ most attractive trait, however, is his toughness and fearlessness. He is one of those role players who fully believes he is the best player on the floor at all times. Much in the mold of J.R. Smith, Jason Terry, and Nick Young, that level of confidence can bode well on the biggest stages in the NBA playoffs when many players shrink from the spotlight. Waiters backs down from no one and can provide that bit of toughness and energy that is invaluable at times.
But with all the good that Waiters can potentially bring, is it that superior to what the Lakers already have?
When looking at the team’s current guard rotation of Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it is hard to say that is a resounding yes. Waiters is good in certain areas, but it feels like the Lakers have better options already in hand in each area.
Waiters is a more reliable shooter than Caruso or Rondo, but certainly not at the level of Caldwell-Pope or Green. He is a solid defender, but Green and Caruso are probably ahead of him in that area as well. As a playmaker, Rondo has him beat and it could be argued that Caruso does as well.
Even when it comes to playoff experience and someone who has performed on that huge stage, Rondo, Green, and even Quinn Cook have far more experience than that of Waiters.
The one area where Waiters has a clear advantage is the ability to create his own shot. None of the aforementioned guards are true scorers and Waiters could bring something when it comes to that, but his lack of efficiency is concerning. He is a career 41.2 percent shooter from the field and has never been above 43.3 percent shooting in any season.
The argument can certainly be made that while the Lakers have better options in each individual category, they may not present the complete package that Waiters brings but that may not be enough to bring him in — especially when remembering the Lakers would have to release someone to do it.
The chemistry on this team is excellent and the Lakers have to be very careful as to not disturb it too much. Waiters has had multiple off-court issues already during the 2019-20 NBA season (only appearing in three games) and not to mention his extensive injury history that has led to him appearing in no more than 46 games each of the last three seasons.
The Lakers are wise to explore all of their potential options to improve this team for the 2020 NBA playoff run and Waiters is one of the better ones available.
However, it is hard to picture him bringing something significantly better than what the team already has in house and with the potential chemistry issues as well, he may be someone worth staying away from.