Dion Waiters Earns High Praise From Erik Spoelstra at First Day of Training Camp

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A common theme in the new faces that make up the redone Miami Heat roster is one involving players who are looking for a fresh start. One of those players is Philadelphia native Dion Waiters, who has been pushed from one team roster to another because of his reputation as a bad teammate.

Waiters had a couple options this summer but ultimately chose the Heat because of the reputation head coach Erik Spoelstra has in giving players a chance to improve in his system.

“I wasn’t worried about the money,” Waiters said. “That’s going to take care of itself at the end of the day.”

Waiters signed a short-term, two-year deal with Miami knowing that he could make more money elsewhere. That was the first positive sign that Spoelstra saw and he was even more impressed with how Waiters reported to camp.

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“He’s in terrific shape,” Spoelstra said. “He really committed the last few weeks to get into world-class shape, Miami Heat shape, better shape than he’s ever been in in his life. That’s the first step.”

According to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, when Waiters arrived for voluntary offseason training three weeks ago he weighed in at 234 pounds and had 10 percent body fat. At the start of training camp today he was down to 222 pounds and 7.5 percent body fat. That’s pretty impressive stuff for three weeks work, even for a professional athlete.

All signs point toward Waiters stepping into the large shoes left by Dwyane Wade at the shooting guard position. The former Syracuse University star knows he’ll be under pressure but isn’t letting that get to him.

“At the end of the day, you’ve just got to block that out,” said Waiters. “The only thing I can do is be prepared for whatever happens.”

Coach Spoelstra echoed the same sentiment.

“He doesn’t need to fill in anybody’s shoes. He can be himself and grow in that role,” said Spoelstra.

It seems that coach Spoelstra has taken a liking to what Waiters has shown so far. It will be interesting to watch how a motivated Waiters fits into the Heat’s game plan this year.
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Atreya is currently attending Purdue University and loves to watch and follow the NBA. He grew up in Alabama so he loves his Auburn Tigers just as much as he does the Miami Heat. He’s been a huge fan of the team since that magical 2006 title run and still believes Dwyane Wade can drop 50 on any given night. He’s extremely excited to be writing about the team he loves and keeping Heat Nation up to date on all things Heat. You can follow him on Twitter @atreya_verma.