Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters . He has spoken out publicly against his team, been accused of insubordination by the organization and even forced a team charter flight into an emergency landing due to a gummy-induced panic attack. The odds of him even stepping on an NBA floor this season were incredibly slim.
But Waiters did far more than that on Friday night. With Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow all out, Miami had no choice but to turn to Waiters as a reserve guard. He responded by scoring 14 points, pulling down four rebounds and nearly leading a 15-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Los Angeles Clippers with Jimmy Butler sidelined. In a critical stretch during that attempted comeback, Waiters blocked Lou Williams twice and proceeded to hit a 3-pointer that cut the deficit down to three.
Waiters has repeatedly clashed with Miami's notoriously strict culture, but despite everything that has happened this season, the Heat signed him for a reason. He averaged 15.8 points per game for them during the 2016-17 season, leading to a four-year contract that has mostly been a disappointment.
But in light of his performance on Friday, it's worth asking if Waiters could potentially help solve one of Miami's biggest problems. While the Heat have been an elite two-way team all season, their offense has been 7.8 points per 100 possessions worse when Butler goes to the bench. Finding a way to generate offense during his restswith the deadline approaching.
A noted shot-maker like Waiters might be able to do just that. After all, the Heat posted a 114.6 offensive rating with Waiters on the floor Friday. While he struggles to set up teammates, lineups featuring him and point forward Justise Winslow scored 112.7 points per 100 possessions last season, so Winslow's eventual return could unlock similar lineups moving forward that allow Waiters to focus primarily on scoring.
Finding minutes for Waiters will be difficult with the Heat at full strength. Dragic and Nunn deservedly play quite a bit, and Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson aren't going anywhere. But Waiters at least gave the Heat a look at another potential option on Friday. His contract looked like dead money as recently as a few hours ago. Now? They might be able to milk some value out of Waiters after all.