Last week, we had an extensive piece analyzing how Celtics’ two-way player Tremont Waters plays on the defensive end of the ball. Besides concerns about how the 5’11 player will be able to match up against bigger guards, the analysis was extremely positive as we pointed to tenacious on-ball defense and knack for flying into the passing lanes as the reasons behind that praise and his success with LSU.
Although that focus was warranted, there’s still a whole other end of the court that we haven’t examined yet. While defense was his forte at LSU, Waters stood as a reliable offensive threat by putting up 15.3 points, 5.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game on 43% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc. Those averages, plus efficiency at the free-throw line, were the reasons why he maintained a solid 55% True Shooting Percentage during his sophomore season.
Versatility was a significant reason behind his offensive success as he was able to score in a variety of different ways which include: driving to the rim with both hands, pushing the ball down the court in transition, facilitating, mid-range jumpers and using both off-the-dribble and catch-and-shoot to hit perimeter jumpers. Among those skills, his knack as a passer probably stood as the best trait during his time in college, with Waters regularly did a great job of dishing the ball off to his LSU teammates.
Despite being a smaller 5’11 guard, he was still able to look over the court and quickly recognize open teammates to pass it off too. That was especially evident when he was working his roll man, as the 21-year-old showed the vision and patience that you mainly only see from NBA veterans. A fantastic example of that is seen in the clip below as he takes a few dribbles to the left to capture the defense’s attention before throwing a slick one-handed pass, which catches his cutting teammate in stride.
Sticking with this film study, we move onto seeing an example of how the LSU alum can move away from the perimeter before moving the ball out to one of his teammates. After pushing LSU to start their half-court set, Waters moves to the right towards the off-ball screener, Kavell Bigby-Williams.
After taking a step past the screener to make sure the opposing guard is caught up in the screen, our subject can split the pick-and-roll and travel to the free-throw line. That movement captures the defense’s attention, which gives the 5’11 the freedom to find the position to loft up a pass as a defender was standing between his target Emmitt Williams and the rim, that lob where the big was able to poke the ball into the basket.
Waters’ ability to get past his perimeter defender and move towards the paint also helped him out as an on-ball driver. Along with utilizing off-ball screens, he does an excellent job of using change of speed moves and slick handles to work around that on-ball defender. Following that initial victory, the guard can continue exploding to the paint before finishing at the rim with either hand.
Due to standing as a small 5’1, 175-pound guard, you’d think he’d able to finish in traffic. However, he’s shown some rare glimpses to finish successfully despite there being a forward or big positioned on his side. Those tools allowed him to be an above-average finisher as the young guard shot 57% from the restricted area, according to The Stepien’s shot charts.
One area that Waters will need to grow as he starts his pro career would be as a shooter. Because during his sophomore season with LSU, he struggled from beyond the arc as he shot just 32% from beyond the arc on 5.2 attempts per game. That’s a pretty significant 2% decline on the 35% on 6.2 attempts that he hit during his initial year with the school. When you look at videos like the one you see below, that efficiency dip doesn’t make sense as the 5’11 guard has a clean shooting stroke and has the confidence to launch up step-back jumpers.
While that self-assurance can create great plays, it can also lead to frustration from fans and grey hairs for coaches. That was regularly the case for Waters as his shot selection from beyond the arc was honestly questionable at times as he usually jacked up ill-advised jumpers. Although some of those bad shots came with limited time left on the shot clock, the vast majority of them came from well beyond the arc with plenty of seconds to move the ball to another teammate. In the case of Waters, you really can’t use the excuse of him being the only option on a bad team as Naz Reid and Ja” Vonte Smart were both significant parts of LSU’s offense.
Will shot selection be an issue that Waters will have to work at as he starts his pro career as a member of the Maine Red Claws? Absolutely. However, he should still be a reliable offensive weapon while trying to mend that weakness. For one, the 5’11 guard will bring solid playmaking skills on a Red Claws team that should feature standout offensive weapons like Yante Maten, Max Strus, and Kaiser Gates. That trio in addition to him working pick-and-rolls with the 7’6 Tacko Fall should give him numerous opportunities to dish the ball off. Those weapons should also give him a chance to use his quickness to create opportunities as an on-ball driver.
So while the two-way player will use his time with the Maine Red Claws to continue to grow, Tremont Waters should immediately stand as one of the best rookies in the NBA G League.