Welcome to the twenty-seventh installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Jerry Bulone and Zak Kolesar sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. The combination of rotating RDE duos answer three questions regarding the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today the discussion revolves around Kyrie Irving’s All-Star status, Cleveland’s victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, LeBron James’s possible return to the Cavaliers, the state of the Golden State Warriors and comparing James’ statistics to those of Kevin Durant’s.
First Question: Do you think Kyrie Irving should have been a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star Team?
Jerry Bulone: I think Irving is a great young player, but he should not have been the starter for the Eastern Conference this year. He is a dynamic scorer, who elevates his game during the fourth quarter. So there is no doubt in my mind he will eventually become a mainstay in the NBA All-Star Game. However, there are still things Irving needs to work on to become the complete player: namely turnovers and defense. Once he improves in these areas, watch out.
Zak Kolesar: In my opinion, Rajon Rondo seems a little bit too concerned with padding his stats. Yes, Kyrie’s defense may be an issue as of right now and Rondo is arguably the most prolific and precise passer in the league, but I would give Irving the edge in almost every other category. They both turn over the ball at a high rate (both currently at 3.67 per game), but Irving is much better at creating shots, a more productive scorer, a reliable asset in the fourth quarter and is a much better perimeter shooter than Rondo. His time will come, but voters should have given Kyrie the start this year.
Second Question: The Cavaliers managed to get their first win on their West Coast trip against the Portland Trail Blazers; what did you take away from the victory?
JB: Basically the only thing that I took away from this is more of the same. When Irving is hot, the Cavaliers can play with anyone. Also, just when we think Waiters has turned the corner, and is going to start to be the dynamic player we all know that he can be, he has a game like he did against Portland. Finally, congrats to Tristan Thompson; you have officially arrived.
ZK: The Portland Trail Blazers, after beating the Miami Heat, were taking a three-game losing streak into their match with the Cavs. Their third loss came in overtime, so this was a game that the Cavaliers could out muscle their opponents in the first half and squeeze by in the next two quarters. It was closer than I thought, but I saw a lot of great signs from Tyler Zeller in all phases of the game. He played the most minutes out of any player on the court, logging 40 and drawing six offensive fouls. He was efficient, which is something that has been absent all season from the rookie center.
Third Question: Editor Zak Kolesar recently wrote a piece on fans accepting/denying LeBron if he were to come back to Cleveland in the summer of 2014. What are your thoughts on the stories that have been developing as of late?
JB: I usually believe in the old saying, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” but not in this case. I think I am probably in the minority, but I do not believe any of it. LeBron is with a championship contender, and is in position to stay atop the NBA for a long while. This notion that he loves Akron so much that he might come back Cleveland is more wishful thinking that anything else. However, I will agree that the possibility is fun to think about and discuss.
ZK: It was fun to pick the brains of Cleveland fans on this one, but the way I stand on this issue needs two explanations. If he were to return to the Cavaliers, of course I would accept him. He’s the greatest athlete on the planet right now. It wouldn’t make any sense at all for us to not take him back because he would instantly make us a contender again. With that said, I agree with Jerry. He’s going to want to put himself in the best situation to win championships, and Miami will still be the platform for him to do that on even when the summer of 2014 does come.
Fourth Question: With Stephen Curry out with a right ankle injury (he’s expected back soon), do you think that the Golden Warriors will be able to hold up the final half of the NBA regular season?
JB: It will be very tough. They have a bad schedule coming up in their next five games, with New Orleans being the only team with a losing record (and they have won seven of their last 10 games). Combine that with the fact that Andrew Bogut has been out as well and backup point guard Jarrett Jack is nursing a bad elbow. The Warriors are in trouble.
ZK: The Warriors are currently in sole possession of fifth place in the Western Conference standings, but hungry and surging teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, could bump them out by the season’s end. As of right now, the Warriors are 3.5 games ahead of the Houston Rockets, who hold the final playoff spot in the West. Injuries will eventually derail this team completely, and that’s a shame. They boast one of the best backcourts in the NBA and David Lee should have been a frontcourt starter in the forthcoming All-Star Game.
Fifth Question: More impressive stat line: LeBron James (averaging 26.0 points, 6.9 assists, 8.1 rebounds) or Kevin Durant (shooting 52.5 percent from field, 40.2 percent from three, 90.1 percent from free throw line)?
JB: LeBron’s line is more impressive, especially when you consider that he is shooting better than that (54.6 percent from the field) and is almost at 40 percent from three-point range as well. Like him or not, there is no doubting that LeBron is the league’s best player.
ZK: I recently changed my MVP candidate in the matter of a week or so from Chris Paul to Durant. I don’t see LeBron finishing with similar shooting percentages than what he is boasting now, but I can see Durant continuing his tear throughout. He is making a mockery of his career numbers and is leading the best team in the NBA. Durant is on pace to have one of the most impressive offensive seasons of all-time, and I think that deserves more recognition than what King James has done thus far.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Jerry Bulone and Chris Manning have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”