MIAMI — Last week went pretty well for Dion Waiters.
It started with a 33-point performance that included a game-winning 3-pointer to lead the Heat to a shocking upset win over the Warriors last Monday. And it continued as he averaged 23.3 points on 48.6 percent shooting to go with 4.5 rebounds and five assists with the Heat going 4-0 last week.
Need more proof that last week was Waiters’ week? The 25-year-old Heat guard was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the period ending Sunday.
But when asked about winning the award, Waiters didn’t even crack a smile.
“It feels good,” Waiters said.
After that three-word answer, Waiters explained that Miami’s wins over the past week mean more to him than the award.
“Good things come to people who work,” Waiters said. “I just continue to just try to stay humble and continue to keep working and the team is moving in the right direction as far as winning. I couldn’t care less about individual accolades. As long as we’re winning and we’re having fun and I’m having fun, I don’t care about nothing else.”
The Heat aren’t taking Waiters’ award for granted, though.
“We don’t take that kind of news for granted even in a year like this,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We want our players to get better. We want them to push and be open minded to become something different. And he’s really been working at it, working on trying to be more efficient, working on how to make more winning plays, learning how to finish better at the rim, learning how to ultimately impact winning better.”
It’s the first time Waiters has earned the honor in his NBA career, and he’s the first Heat player to get the award since Dwayne Wade won it last season on Jan. 31, 2016. Waiters is also the first Heat player not named Chris Bosh, LeBron James or Wade to earn the honor since Shaquille O’Neal was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 19, 2004.
Over the Heat’s current seven-game winning streak, Waiters is averaging 22.1 points on 50 percent shooting.
Waiters signed a two-year deal with the Heat last summer with a $3 million player option for next season. But with the way Waiters has played recently, he’s expected to opt out to become a free agent with more money available in free agency.
“Dion played probably his most efficient basketball [last week], obviously the big shots at the end of a couple of the games,” Spoelstra said. “But it was efficient basketball where he was making positive plays for the team on both ends and you don’t get these kind of rewards if you don’t go 4-0. They’re not giving them to teams that are 0-4 for the week.”