Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant is excited about the trade bringing Dion Waiters to the Thunder, and Durant vowed the team would do its best to make Waiters feel at home, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
"We're going to make him feel wanted. I don't think he's felt that the last few years," Durant said, acknowledging Waiters's tumultuous time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Waiters clashed with star point guard Kyrie Irving, and the shooting guard never got comfortable in his role this season playing alongside Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
In Oklahoma City, Waiters joins ball-dominant players in Durant and Russell Westbrook, and possibly another in Reggie Jackson if he doesn't get traded. There could be some of the same problems with the Thunder as there were with the Cavaliers, but Durant believes Waiters will "fit in well" and "get comfortable real quick."
When asked if Waiters could be James Harden-like for Oklahoma City, Durant said the youngster could do similar things, according to Anthony Slater of NewsOk.com:
"I'm not saying he's James' replacement, we're far past that. But, yeah, he can play, can come off the bench for us and score and make plays. He's a really good player, man. A lot of people take him for granted, I think. Because he's been around and you hear different things about him that's not true. But he can play basketball. So he just needs to come out here and be himself, be aggressive and make plays."
Waiters is a talented player, as evidenced by his strong finish to last season. However, a good portion of that success came when Irving was out with an injury and Waiters was able to dominate the ball. Waiters will get the chance to be a primary scorer off the Thunder's bench, but he also must prove he can be effective when playing as the third or fourth option.
Westbrook gets a ton of criticism for hijacking shots from Durant, so things could get real ugly if Waiters steals opportunities from both of them. But if Waiters can play within himself and take advantage of the opportunities presented to him instead of forcing the matter too often, the risk could turn out to be worth it.
Waiters doesn't have to be Harden, but he could be Harden Lite, and the Thunder are going to do all they can to make it work.