Welcome to the nineteenth 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 Dion Waiters’ shooting habits, dealing with injuries and sickness, outlook on the six-game road trip, most impressive team in the Central Division and Mike Brown being fired.
First Question: What are your opinions on Dion Waiters’ shooting habits so far this season?
Zachary Kolesar: Praises were plentiful after Waiters’ 28-point outpouring against the Los Angeles Clippers, but we saw the Wine and Gold sharp shooter have an off night against the Warriors. The way Dion called for the ball in the game against Los Angeles really impressed me, but he has to be a little smarter with the shots that he takes. He knows the best time for him to shoot the ball, but some of the shots that I saw on Wednesday were too deep to be considered smart. It’s only the beginning, but his selction has to improve.
Chris Manning: I have been blow away by Dion Waiters thus far. The Syracuse product has far exceed any expectations most had for him with this stat line: 15.4 PPG, 44.6 percent shooting, 52.0 percent three point shooting, and an efficiency rating of +11.00. His shot selection has been a big part of that. He hasn’t been forcing shots like he was in the preseason – he is getting his shot in the flow of the game like he should be playing alongside a point guard like Kyrie Irving. If he can keep this up, he should be near the top of the Rookie of the Year rankings.
Dan Pilar: He has played exactly how I thought he would; inconsistent. I don’t want to say inconsistent as a bad thing, but he hasn’t been a reliable shooter, which isn’t a good thing. He has been able to take pressure off Kyrie at the point, which has been a huge help. Against the Clippers, Kyrie had an outstanding first quarter, then it seemed like he was non-existent until he hit the dagger three pointer with 30 seconds left. Waiters had a helluva shooting night and felt comfortable to pull the trigger from anywhere on the court. That confidence rolled over to Wednesday’s game, and unfortunately he didn’t have as much success. He’s going to have these inconsistent shooting nights all year, but so far I think Irving enjoys playing along side Waiters and what he brings to the table.
Second Question: Are the Cavaliers taking the right precautionary measures with their players in the early season?
ZK: Since the bench has little to no depth at all, the Cavaliers have to keep their core as healthy as they can. That starts with taking precautionary measures against any little injury that may be creeping up on or bothering a player. Sitting Andy out for a night due to a bruised right knee was smart, and will prove worthy down the tumultuous playoff battle if the Cavaliers are in the thick of things once the season starts to wind down.
CM: I absolutely agree with the Cavs being cautious with their injured players. This belief holds especially true in respect to Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving. Both are coming off of major injuries, and it is not worth risking their long-term health over games against Golden State and Phoenix. Plus, unless something unforeseen happens, the Cavaliers will not be contenders this season. They are going to be a team that does not win a ton of games, and uses this season to grow in hopes of being a contender down the road. If someone is hurt, rest them. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
DP: Injuries are our biggest obstacle right now. I see the Cavaliers as a middle of the pack Eastern Conference team. They can beat teams in different ways; on the boards or shooting from three. As we saw at Golden State, we won’t be able to win games if we’re missing a key player like Andy. We rely heavily on our starters and if they’re down, we’re hurting. To prevent any long-term injuries, I think we have to sit guys if they’re a little dinged up.
Third Question: How do the Cavaliers need to finish this road trip in order for it to be a successful one?
ZK: Whenever you leave an away trip with a winning record or an even split, I would consider that a victory. The Cavaliers stand at 1-2 before their matchup with the Phoenix Suns. Two more games, in Brooklyn and Oklahoma City, remain after that. The Cavaliers beat the Thunder for the second time at home, and that was after 40 games had been played. The Thunder finished with a home record of 26-7, so the Cavaliers have what it takes to go into an environment like OKC and snatch a victory. I would predict that the Cavs go 3-3 on this trip, winning tonight and grabbing 1-of-2 from the Nets or Thunder.
CM: First off, the Cavaliers need to beat Phoenix tonight. It’s a game they should win, and it will give them hope of not going 2-4 on their trip. Their last two games, against Brooklyn and Oklahoma City, are the hardest two games on the trip. In those two games, I’m hoping they can at least be competitive against these upper echelon teams. Also, I think it’s crucial that people remember that they beat the Clippers, and that in itself is a success. Beating a team of the Clips talent level is a big feather in the Cavaliers cap.
DP: We have to win tonight. It is a winnable game for us and we need it with OKC and Brooklyn coming up. In my opinion, going 3-3 would be a great success. We played some talented teams, faced injuries and were on the wrong end of a devastating buzzer beater. Going 3-3 would require us beating either the Thunder or Nets. Easier said than done.
Fourth Question: Which Eastern Conference Central Division team has been the most impressive so far?
ZK: I would say that no team has looked more impressive over another. The Bulls have registered wins over the Kings, a blowout win over the Cavs and the Magic. The Cavaliers have been very inconsistent thus far. Detroit is 0-5, so enough said. Indiana looks to be in trouble due to injuries, and there offense hasn’t been able to get the ball rolling yet. The Bucks have wins over the Celtics and Cavs, but an embarrassing loss to the Grizzlies ruins that for them. With all that said, I would have to say that the Pacers, who are leading the league in rebounds and are ninth in the Association in points allowed, are my team to go with in the Central.
CM: I have been impressed by the Bulls. Even without Derrick Rose, they have played tough in every game. The competition has not been that high (Sacramento, Cleveland, New Orleans, Orlando, and Oklahoma City), but they played the Thunder tight right down until the end. They have so many veterans that they will beat everyone besides the elite teams without Rose, and they still will be competitive against those teams. I am greatly intrigued by the Bulls, and I fully believe that they could be a serious title contender if Derrick Rose comes back at full strength. That is a big “if,” but I firmly believe that it is possible.
DP: I got to give it to the Chicago Bulls. Not only did they come to Cleveland and beat our butts, but they’re sitting at 3-2 right now. And they’ve done it with their floor general, Derrick Rose, out. Joakim Noah has stepped up and has been their star this year. They played OKC tough last night to the very end so you got to give them credit thus far.
Fifth Question: What are your thoughts on the recent firing of Mike Brown after a 1-4 start to the season for the Lakers?
ZK: This whole situation is laughable. It was only a matter of time before Brown would get the ax, but I just didn’t think it would be this early on in the season. Observing Brown in Cleveland, he didn’t know the right way to handle a superstar. How could people expect him to manage three to four big names? I’m shocked that after a 1-4 start the Lakers are already making a move this huge. It will be interesting to see whom Los Angeles brings in to cater to Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and company.
CM: I am shocked that Mike Brown got fired after only five games. He was dealing with a largely new team, a new offense and a new staff around him. I know that Lakers have lacked cohesion, but he deserved more time to figure things out. Dealing with all of that on top of an injury to Steve Nash is something no NBA coach could be equipped to handle. I don’t believe that he was going to be able to lead them to a title, but he at deserved a longer chance to prove that he was. Ultimately, he probably was not the right guy to take over from the legendary Phil Jackson, but again, he deserved a longer chance. All the best to coach Brown, and I hope he gets another shot at an NBA job. After all, he is only 42 years old. That is far too young for him to be done coaching at the NBA level.
DP: Wow. But I’m not shocked it happened. If the Lakers don’t win it this year, they may be done for a while. Kobe is at the end of his career and Dwight Howard isn’t under contract next season and is not guaranteed he will re-sign with the Lakers. They don’t even own a first round draft pick in next year’s draft. So they got to be all in this year, and if something is wrong, they need to fix it. They thought Mike Brown was the problem, so they fixed it. I never thought Brown was a good head coach and figured the LA experience wouldn’t work. He’s a defensive coach with little-to-no offensive knowledge. At the remaining minutes of games, when a game-winning shot is needed, Brown isn’t the one drawing up a final play; he hands it off to one of his assistants. He is the only coach I know of in the NBA that does that. Even his defensive expertise weren’t able to work in LA with Howard, the best defensive player in the league.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Chris Manning, Dan Pilar and Zachary Kolesar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”