Waves is being held back maybe by whales or maybe just slow user adoption. but soon enough we should see waves reach new all time highs.
This idea that whales are holding back the price is unlikely to be true (at least in isolation). Those kind of whales exist even for Bitcoin but they have very limited success.
The main difference is lack of volume.
In order to have sustained price rises you need both volume and demand. Unfortunately Waves will only get that by being added to some more major exchanges particularly in the Far East.
Those kind of additions are what made other coins coins have stratospheric rises even in cases where they had less to offer.
Right now many of the big new crypto nations have minimal awareness that Waves is on the radar - even if they do they may not be willing or able (due to language barriers) to trade on Bittrex and the DEX has zero liquidity so major players will not touch it. The sooner we get added to more major exchanges the better. DEXs may be the future but they are most definitely not ready for the present.
They won't be until they are mature enough to give the same user experience and ease of use as centralised exchanges - even then it will take time to attract the volume necessary to be viable.So for now we are stuck with relying on centralised exchanges and that should be a priority for Waves right now.