CLEVELAND -- Since all-star point guard Kyrie Irving went out of the lineup with a strained head tendon in his left biceps last Sunday at the Los Angeles Clippers, second-year guard Dion Waiters has been starting for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After playing 46 straight games in a reserve role, Waiters has scored 73 points on 28 of 64 shooting from the field since returning to the starting lineup against the Miami Heat last Tuesday.
"Dion's done a tremendous job scoring the basketball," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "He's scored from all three levels. He's scored in a lot of different ways. He's done a nice job of moving the basketball also, and not keeping it in one spot.
"Anytime our young guys can play minutes, it's a positive thing. It's good for him. It's good for Delly (Matthew Dellavedova). It's good for Tyler (Zeller). It's good for all these guys to get minutes right now, and hopefully, learn and grow and the minutes can be productive at the end of the day."
As the Cavaliers stormed back from a 20-plus point Oklahoma City Thunder lead Thursday, it was Waiters who stole a pass during a full-court press and converted a layup to make it a five-point game with 1:13 to play in the fourth quarter. Waiters finished the game with 30 points, four assists and three steals.
In the Cavaliers' 118-111 loss to the Houston Rockets at Quicken Loans Arena Saturday, Waiters scored 26 points on 11 of 20 shooting. He handed out eight assists and pulled down four rebounds in the setback.
"It's an efficient offensive game, but it's more than going 11 of 20 from the floor," Brown said. "It's more than that. Dion's learning and he's growing. He's getting better, but he still has a high ceiling, which is a good thing because he can be a lot better than he is right now.
"He's a two that can play some one. He's a combo guy."
Among those things in which Brown believes Waiters can get better at is his ability to play consistently on both ends of the floor.
"Defensively, he gets a little lost, like some of our other young guys do," Brown said. "He's big; he's strong; he's athletic. He's got to rebound for us.
"He's got to finish, continue trying to finish or get to the free-throw line. Then, he's got to run. If he can rebound and run at a high level, as well as play defense consistently, he's going to be an amazing player."