Heat’s Dion Waiters reacts to fans who suggest he comes off bench: ‘I’m a starter in this league, I’m not coming off no bench’

Miami Heat’s Dion Waiters reacts after making a 3-point basket during a game against the Charlotte Hornets last week. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MEXICO CITY – Although the Heat haven’t indicated they want Dion Waiters coming off the bench, the idea has been raised by fans since he came to Miami more than a year ago.

But Waiters has a message for those who think the team would be better off if he were on the bench at the start of the game:

“I’m a starter in this league, man, that’s who I am. We’re going to nip that in the bud right now. I’m not coming off no bench.”

Waiters, 25, has played both roles in his career, starting 110-of-289 games with Cleveland and Oklahoma City before coming to Miami.

But Waiters admitted he is not comfortable as a reserve.

“I never liked the role,” he said before the Heat’s practice Friday in Mexico City. “I just had to accept it.”

Miami plays Brooklyn tonight (6 p.m.) at Arena Ciudad de Mexico.

And the numbers show he plays better as a starter, averaging 15.3 points and shooting .414 (.351 on threes) compared to 11.6 points on .410 shooting (.333 on threes) as a reserve in his career. He averages 1.2 assists more a game (3.4 compared to 2.2) as a starter.

In Miami, he has started all but three of his 68 games, and those were the first three he played after missing 20 because of a groin injury last season.

Waiters’ numbers are down, though not drastically, this season from 2016-17, a year that earned him a four-year, $52 million contract from Miami.

The Heat’s starting shooting guard is averaging 15.4 points on .401 shooting, .326 on 3-pointers. A year ago, he finished the season averaging 15.8 points, shooting .424 from the field and .395 percent on threes. His assists have dropped by a half a game to 3.8.

The issue – with Waiters and the entire team – has been inconsistency. In the last three weeks he’s had games of 0-of-10, 2-of-10, 3-of-10 and 1-of-10. But he had his best shooting night of the season Wednesday in the loss at San Antonio, going 8-of-12 and scoring 22 points.

“Who really has been consistent on this team,” Waiters said.

Waiters has the team’s lone 30-point game this season, scoring 33 on 14-of-28 shooting against Minnesota on Oct. 30.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the Spurs game he’s been pleased with Waiters’ work habits.

“Now, in the last couple of weeks, it hasn’t necessarily been the results that we’ve wanted and I know he wants better results, as well,” Spoelstra said. “But I like the work that he’s been putting in. He’s been diligent about trying to take more responsibility, make better plays for the team.

“He just has to stay with it and we’ll get him in spots where he can be aggressive.”

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