Welcome to the seventh installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” Every Friday Chris Manning, Dan Pilar and I sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. We answer three questions concerning the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today we will be discussing what grades we would give to the Cavaliers draft/free agent acquisitions so far, if Andrew Bynum will stay with the 76ers for long and how Andre Iguodala will fit in with the Denver Nuggets.
First Question: Regarding free agent/draft acquisitions, what would you grade the job that the Cavaliers did on bringing in frontcourt help?
Zachary Kolesar: With the draft-day trade that sent Tyler Zeller from the Dallas Mavericks to the Cavaliers, Cleveland’s frontcourt improved immensely with just that one acquisition. As most teams around the NBA are struggling to find true big men or are just not implementing them into their playbook, the Cavaliers could have a huge advantage, especially in the talented center-depleted Eastern Conference, in a few years if Zeller is a successful project. Bringing in 6-10 Jon Leur and signing undrafted free agent center Michael Eric adds a lot of young talented bigs to the Cavaliers roster. I would give the Cavaliers a B in this category.
Chris Manning: I think they deserve an “A” for effort at this point. They added a solid prospect in Tyler Zeller in the NBA Draft, and signing a prospect like Michael Eric is, at the very least, an interesting move. We don’t know what either of these guys will end up doing, so I can’t give a full assessment until I see what these guys can do at the NBA level.
On another related note, these moves were the best moves for the Cavs to make up front this offseason. Any scenario that brought Andrew Bynum to Cleveland was unrealistic or would cost the Cavs too much. I think it was wise of Chris Grant to not overpay for a guy who could not even stay longer than a year. Giving up Anderson Varejao and/or Tristan Thompson would be detrimental to the rebuilding process that has gone pretty well thus far. So it’s okay that these moves aren’t flashy. Those flashy moves will come when the Cavs are ready to contend. And that time is not now.
Dan Pilar: Can’t complain with the big men the Cavs brought in. We already had three grinders down in the paint with Varejao, Samuels, and Thompson. Then we add a seven footer with a 15-foot jumper and claim Jon Leur off waiver…solid pickups all around.
Second Question: Regarding free agent/draft acquisitions, what would you grade the job that the Cavaliers did on bringing in backcourt help?
ZK: This is an area where I have a lot of questions about. Was Dion Waiters worth the gamble at No. 4? Will Kelenna Azubuike ever be the same since his last injury? Will Jeremy Pargo be able to hold down the fort when Kyrie Irving needs rest? I don’t like answering a question with another one, but these are all legitimate concerns going into the season. I’ll give the Cavaliers a B+ in this category because I am a big believer that Waiters will come through and play like a No. 4 pick and I feel that C.J. Miles being able to play at the guard or forward position could provide the Cavaliers with a lot of options to go with in their lineup. He will eventually become the starter at a position that is very thin on the Cavaliers roster. Irving and Waiters will become a formidable backcourt in a few seasons, but I believe the Cavs could have done more to bolster their backcourt problems.
CM: This area gets an “A” for effort as well because Dion Waiters could turn out to be complete stud, and C.J. Miles is probably an upgrade over Alonzo Gee. The only downfall of this could be what kind of shape Waiters is in. Assuming he’s ready to go, he’ll be an upgrade over Anthony Parker. But if he’s not, then he likely will end up in Byron Scott’s doghouse. And if he gets there, it’ll be hard for him to get out. My one complaint is the cutting on Manny Harris. I liked his game a lot, and even if he wasn’t going to start long term, he had potential to become a serviceable role player.
The Miles-Gee situation should be just as interesting as well. Assuming Gee signs his tender, the battle for playing time between the two could drag out for months. They’re eerily similar players, and who ever gets the edge should be the starting small forward. It may be temporary as I expect the Cavs to draft one next year, but the winner of the battle should expect to have a continuing role going forward. The loser may not even be on the team this year.
DP: Chris Grant believes with drafting Dion Waiters, him and Kyrie will be a dynamic duo. But it’s going to take some time and it may look real ugly in the beginning. But I believe these two have a bright future. Also bringing in Jeremy Pargo as backup was a nice little acquisition.
Third Question: Regarding free agent/draft acquisitions, what would you grade the job that the Cavaliers did on bringing in defensive help?
ZK: I think that this is an area in which the Cavaliers did very poorly in, but I will still reward them with a C grade because of what Zeller may bring to the table. The former Tar Heel is a different breed of center. He’s very athletic and can get up the court in no time. He averaged 9.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in his final season at North Carolina, so it’s not like he was just an offensive force for UNC. With players like John Henson on the roster (averaged 9.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks), Zeller’s defensive talents went unnoticed most of the time. That won’t happen in Cleveland.
CM: Defense was lacking last year, but they didn’t really add anyone that plays lockdown defense. Losing Antawn Jamison probably helps since he wasn’t always up to defending the young fours around the league. But again, they didn’t add anyone that will greatly improve the defense. Zeller has a chance to, but he’s not a Dwight Howard-like player on defense. The Cavs must expect the defense to improve. Otherwise, they would of done something directly to improve the defense.
DP: Our defense needs some work to it. If we do end up signing Alonzo Gee, that will definitely be an upgrade. But as a team, this team will struggle on defense especially going up against these mega-teams like Miami, New York, Brooklyn.
Fourth Question: Do you think Andrew Bynum will own up to what he said this week and sign with Philadelphia after the 2012-13 season is over?
ZK: Andrew Bynum said in his introductory press conference with the Philadelphia 76ers this week that he is extremely excited to be with the team and that he’s “really looking forward to making” Philly his home. I think he will end up signing a max deal with the Sixers at the end of the 2012-13 season. He will be the prominent star on the 76ers roster, and no better time because he is showing signs of mass improvement over the last couple seasons. Things can only go up for Bynum, and players on the outside will want to be apart of it once they see what special things will happen in City of Brotherly Love.
CM: I think he will. They have decent young core lead by Evan Turner, and they can offer him more money than other team. They will be able to offer him a longer deal too, which could be important to a guy whose hasn’t been consistent in his NBA career. Plus, he openly told fans that he was going to stay. If he betrays that, he won’t be popular anywhere. Fans are fickle – just ask LeBron James. Overall, Bynum has no good reasons to leave Philly.
DP: Bynum should be glad to be out of LA. He was unwanted and under appreciated. This is his chance to show that he can be “the guy”. I think he will resign in Philly in the offseason. He won’t do it now because he’ll receive a higher paying contract in the offseason but I definitely think he’ll be in Philly next year. Doug Collins is a very smart coach. I imagine him and Bynum creating a tight relationship,
Fifth Question: Carmelo Anthony says that Andre Iguodala will build a strong relationship with Denver head coach George Karl. Do you think the two will work well together and that Iguodala will help the team?
ZK: Iguodala will help immensely with the defensive struggles that the Nuggets had last season. Denver let up 101.2 points per game, which was ranked second-to-last in the NBA. Their 101.4 points per game, good for first in the Association, helped to counter that, but having defenseman Iguodala on the team now will make this squad more balanced. Coach Karl is a great coach, and Iguodala doesn’t seem to have any ego problems that will get in the way. Great pickup by the Nuggets.
CM: Iguodala is one of those players that can fit in anywhere. He plays tough defense, works hard, and is a leader. He’s not a superstar, but he’s a guy that any team would eagerly take on. I expect him to thrive in Denver alongside Coach Karl. Karl is tough, and he’ll take to Iguodala instantly. I’m looking forward to watching that duo. The Nuggets won’t be elite, but Iguodala will make them better. Denver fans should be excited.
DP: George Karl is a class act and genuinely cares for his players. I believe any player in the NBA, except Metta World Peace, can grow a strong bond with a coach like that. I look forward to seeing Denver compete with LA and Oklahoma City.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Chris Manning, Dan Pilar and Zachary Kolesar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”
Topics: Alonzo Gee, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bynum, Antawn Jamison, C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Dion Waiters, Jeremy Pargo, Jon Leur, Kelenna Azubuike, Manny Harris, Michael Eric, Philadelphia 76ers, Tyler Zeller