Welcome to the thirteenth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” Every Friday Chris Manning 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 the biggest training camp storyline, which players will surprise or disappoint in the preseason, LeBron James No. 1 NBA ranking for the second straight year and what we like most about the NBA 2K13 game.
First Question: What do you think is the biggest storyline going into training camp?
Zachary Kolesar: With Kyrie Irving starting five-on-five workouts earlier this week, I think the most compelling story has to be how the future of the franchise is going to return from his injury. He’s the star of the team, so it makes sense that all eyes will be on Kyrie on October 1. I think we will see an Irving who will be much more versatile and will become one of the most potent and explosive scoring point guards in the league. Only time will tell, however.
Chris Manning: I think the biggest story into training camp is the health of Kyrie Irving. He’s the Cavs best player and also their most important. Every report that I read indicates that he will be good to go when the season starts, and the Cavs better hope that tis the case. Without a fully healthy Kyrie Irving, the Cavs are probably worse than an other team in the NBA. Even with Irving, it feels like a stretch to say that the Cavs are ready to take the step to playoff contention. But without him healthy for this season, the upcoming campaign could be a frustrating one to watch for Cavs fans. Remember, Irving has not played a full campaign since his senior year in high school. He missed a majority of his lone season at Duke, and missed fifteen games last season. So, without a doubt, Irving’s health is the major story going into training camp.
Second Question: Which player do you think will be the biggest surprise?
ZK: For people who didn’t watch the Cavaliers Summer League action, I would have to point out that power forward Samardo Samuels shows that he has what it takes to be one of the Cavs best bench players. By slimming down and getting his stuff together in the offseason, Samuels might have been one of the best performers this summer in Las Vegas. The Cavaliers should be really strong with depth at the power forward and small forward positions, with Tristan Thompson and Samuels most likely playing behind Anderson Varejao and C.J. Miles, Omri Casspi and Alonzo Gee battling it out for the starting three job. Out of all of these players, I believe that Samuels can be one of the biggest surprises. We just have to wait until we see how his defense comes along.
CM: I’m looking for either Samardo Samuels or Jon Leur to be the surprise of training camp. They are competing for that fourth spot in the Cavs front court rotation, and they bring different skill sets to the Cavs roster. Samuels is more of a low post presence, while Leur has the ability to stretch out the floor with his shooting ability. Rumors coming out of Cleveland also indicate that both could be on the roster when the season starts. But I’m expecting one of these two players to have a great training camp, and assert themselves as worthy of playing time on a consistent basis. My other sleeper is Daniel “Boobie” Gibson. I’m expecting him to have a good season.
Third Question: Which player do you think will be the biggest disappointment?
ZK: Honestly I don’t think any players will come into camp and be a blatant disappointment. I believe that every player, even the newcomers and rookies, have been warned of the challenges of Camp Scott, so they over prepare in order to make sure Scott isn’t riding them all camp long. Players have been given ample time to read up on the playbook and I feel like this Cavaliers team is highly motivated this season. They believe that after two morbid seasons that they can compete for a playoff spot, and I don’t think that’s all talk.
CM: I don’t know if anyone will be an outright disappointment, but I’m worried about Dion Waiters. I know he has talent, but what kind of shape will be in? Also, coming off that awful summer league, is he ready for the association? Is he going to compliment Kyrie Irving or will he not? It’s likely that he is going to start right away, so training camp is going to important. We will get a read on the Cavaliers top draft pick early, and out of all players, he has the most potential to be a disappointment. And I think that we will know right away.
Fourth Question: Do you agree with NBA Rank’s No. 1 player ranking of LeBron James?
ZK: Two years in a row LeBron James has been voted the NBA Rank’s No. 1 player in the Association, and that’s rightfully so. Despite it being a 66-game season, James put up some of the best numbers in NBA history even with two other superstars on the roster. His production hasn’t suffered since he left Cleveland, and since LeBron joined Miami we are able to watch one of the best players in his prime. He worked on the necessary tangibles in the offseason following the championship loss to the Dallas Mavericks. He became a prolific rebounder and a better passer, making him expendable at every position on the floor. I think we’ll see another MVP season from the King again.
CM: Yes, and I don’t even think it’s up for debate right now. LeBron is 1. the best player on the best team, 2. the best defender in the NBA, 3. one of best scorers, and 4. was the best player on the U.S. Olympic roster. He lead team USA to that Gold Medal, doing whatever what was necessary for the team to win. Also, when he look at the other players up for consideration, they have parts of their game that are not fully developed or have other concerns. Kevin Durant? Needs work on defense. Kobe Bryant? Still the “Black Mamba”, but showing wear and tear on his body. Derrick Rose? Coming off a major knee injury. The best player in the NBA is LeBron James, without question.
Fifth Question: What do you like most about the new NBA 2K13 video game?
ZK: Being that Jay-Z is my favorite artist of all time, I love the fact that he was given liberty to design certain aspects of the game. By adding artists such as Mac Miller, Meek Mill and Justin Beiber to the roster and making the Dream Team available, I think the NBA 2K series is slowing become the best sports game out there. I would definitely put the NBA 2K games in front of anything that EA has come out with recently. It’s looking more and more real each year.
CM: I love that Jay-Z, Hove the God himself, is heavily involved with the game. He executive produced it, has several songs on the soundtrack, and put lots of great rap on that soundtrack. Rappers like Meek Mill, Kanye West, Nas, and Rakim make an appearance on 2K13. That’s an A-List of rap talent, and some rappers (Wale, Meek Mill and Mac Miller, to name three) are also in the game. As a huge fan of rap, I might play the game for that reason alone. Also, I heard the game graphics have been much improved, and that’s never a downside.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Chris Manning and Zachary Kolesar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”