Following his arrival, Kevin Durant even had the team rearrange the locker room setup, hoping to accommodate Waiters.
After three plus seasons in Cleveland, where he was never embraced by the franchise and often faced turmoil in the locker room, Durant requested Waiters be moved to his side of the room and next to Russell Westbrook.
The reigning MVP declared he wanted his new teammate to feel wanted and through five games, the tactic has worked.
The fourth overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft is being encouraged to shoot the ball, a skill that intrigued Cleveland enough to select him ahead of players such as Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes.
After five games, Waiters has blended in with his new team perfectly, adding an explosive scoring element the team has been seeking since dealing away James Harden three years ago.
After a 1-for-9 shooting performance against Sacramento in his debut with the Thunder, Waiters has been able to ingrain himself within the team, exuding as much effort on the defensive end as he does trying to score the ball, a trait that eluded him with the Cavaliers.
Since joining Oklahoma City, Waiters is averaging 14.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 assists per game.
His shooting percentages have dramatically increased, as his overall shooting has increased by five percent and his 3-point shooting has jumped 12 percent.
Following his 16 point effort during a blowout victory against the Magic Sunday night, Waiters discussed his arrival in Oklahoma City, his defensive prowess and much more.
What are your first impressions of being in Oklahoma City?
It’s a great situation for me. I get to come back and play my game, that’s really what it is about. Just being able to play and not having to look over your shoulder. I can just play basketball.
It seems like you’ve been able to fit in pretty quickly with this group, right?
Yeah, they fit my style of play. We’ve got some guys on this team that can get it and go and do a lot of great things with the ball. Like I said, it’s just being able to play, that’s really the best thing.
You were able to play a lot of minutes (against Orlando), did that give you the ability to show everything you can do on the court?
Yeah, you know, I tried to show them a little bit of everything, defense, passing the ball. A lot of the things people probably don’t see. I’m pretty sure I opened up their eyes now though, I just have to continue to stay with it, continue to be aggressive and most importantly be humble.
One of the biggest criticisms about your game is your shot selection, what has been different about that here with the Thunder?
Listen, they give me the ball. Like, I touch the ball. Like, I actually, like you know, touch the ball and I’m able to feel the game out. I know when to take a shot, when not to. We have a great group of guys on this team, they are very unselfish and they want you to be successful. I think I came into a great situation.
It seems like your teammates want you to shoot it too, right?
Yeah, they tell me to be aggressive, make plays and just play the right way.
Before you got here, Kevin Durant made a point to make you feel welcome. How much did that help you with your transition to Oklahoma City?
They brought me in since Day One with love. It seems like I’ve been here forever. It seems like I’ve been playing with them forever, too. When I came here, we clicked right away.
What impact does that have for you going forward?
It’s very comfortable. I don’t have to go out there and try to force anything or do too much. I’m having fun.
Your aggressiveness on the defensive end has been noticeable too, where do you feel you are on that end?
I’m just trying to show the world that I’m a two-way player. It’s not all about scoring with me. I’m going to get down and dirty and play defense. I think they noticed and I got the opportunity to keep doing it. Just stay aggressive on the defensive end.
How has the defensive intensity been established by your new teammates?
Defense leads to offense. We know on this team that we can score. I think once we lock in on our guy and try to shut down our guy first, then team defense and everything else is easy.
You don’t seem to have a lack of confidence, are you the most confident you’ve been, right now?
I’m always confident. It’s about opportunity and being able to go out here and do what I do. And that is play basketball. I’ve always been confident in myself and knowing what I could do. It’s about going out there and being able to play the game, just going out and having fun, being able to enjoy it. That’s what I’m doing, I’m having fun and enjoying the fresh start. It’s a great organization, great coaches. I couldn’t ask for a better situation than what I’m in.