Welcome to the thirty-sixth 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 NBA draft prospects, Cleveland’s problem with finishing, the Dionw Waiters decision, the Western Conference playoff race and the end to the Miami Heat‘s impressive streak.
First Question: Which prospect who will be up for grabs in the 2013 NBA Draft are you most intrigued by?
Jerry Bulone: Well I was a big fan of Shabazz Muhammad. However I saw UCLA in the first round of the big dance and during a time, when a prime time player should shine the brightest, he seemed—pedestrian. He only had 14 points, shooting .385 percent and only made half of his free throws. More importantly he didn’t pass the “eye test”. He didn’t look like a man amongst boys. He didn’t even look like the best player on his team. I know it’s only one game, but it’s THE game for them, and Shabazz was for the most part an also ran. I still am a fan of his size, athleticism, and age, but I do not think he is the ideal fit the Cavaliers are looking for. So in essence I do not have an answer to that question yet.
Zak Kolesar: I share similar views with Jerry, but with a different player. Shabazz was definitely a mystery all season along – as was that UCLA team. Otto Porter of Georgetown, a team that was ousted by the improbable upset run that Florida Gulf Coast has made so far throughout this tournament. I like the smoothness that Porter plays with at the wing position, and I think he’s the perfect fit for what the Cavaliers are looking for in a three. Alonzo Gee just isn’t a starter, and his numbers this season prove that. I’m intrigued by his style of play and his lanky 6-8 frame.
Second Question: What seems to be the main cause of the Cavaliers’ problem with not being able to maintain double-digit leads late in games besides inexperience?
JB: I just think it’s a talent issue. How many teams would be able to hold onto leads, or even build them with their three best players all out with injury? The NBA is a league of runs, so eventually every team is going to get hot and make a run. The Cavaliers just do not have the horses to combat those runs right now. The talent is on the roster, just not on the floor. We are getting into the dog days of the NBA season and depth is key, right now the Cavs do not have it.
ZK: Lack of depth due to the plethora of important injuries is definitely the answer and I think looking at the shooting guard position is the perfect example to prove this point. We hardly saw Daniel Gibson play at all this season before he has had to come in to fill a spot on this depleted squad. Now we’re seeing him getting role minutes off the bench, and it has been very painful for fans to watch. Next offseason will be one of the biggest in years in regards to filling permanent holes on this team.
Third Question: With Dion Waiters out for most likely the rest of the season does this increase the chance of Cleveland going after another two in the draft?
JB: I do not think Waiters missing this time will sway the Cavaliers brass one way or the other. I think his improved play before he got hurt left the Cavaliers and their fans wanting more. Plus Grant is a very smart man. I just can’t see him giving up on a player that he liked enough to draft 4th overall after just part of one season. That being said, Grant strikes me as a GM that would take the best player available, regardless of need. So depending on where the Cavaliers draft and who’s available all best could be off.
ZK: It’s so late in a lost season that I don’t think that they’ll use one of their first two picks on a shooting guard, but what happens if Victor Oladipo is there at a reasonable pick? Why wouldn’t you want to improve your defense with a player whose ceiling is growing by the day? Waiters defintley showed fans the flashes of brilliance that has people feeling confident about the pick, but there were times when we were scratching our heads with the streaky 2012 No. 4 overall pick. I would say that if it fits the team’s needs, then go for it.
Fourth Question: The race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference is heating up. Which team will hold tough and go on to play in the postseason?
JB: It will be the Lakers (thankfully now the Cavaliers will get that pick for sure). Utah just does not seem to be able to keep up. This is surprising to me considering they did not trade anyone like many thought they would. I am also to a lesser extent surprised that the Lakers have started to put it all together. I think they are a long ways away from being actual contenders in the west, but they have improved, and would be a pretty tough first round draw for the Spurs or the Thunder.
ZK: This is going to work out perfectly for Cleveland (I believe) for the first time in some time. Although people are knocking on the talent in this draft, I’m really intrigued by a lot of player who are predicted to fall in the 15-18 range. Glenn Robinson III, Doug McDermott and Jeff Withey are just three of many players who the Cavaliers could snag with their second pick from the Lakers, because I still hold firm my decision to ride this thing out with the Purple and Gold
Fifth Question: How happy are you that the Heat had their streak snapped Wednesday night against the Bulls?
JB: I actually was rooting for the Heat. I know I am in the minority, and slightly delusional, but I am certain that Lebron will come back in two years. Think about it for a second. Who would you rather play with, a 34 year old Dwayne wade, or a 24 year old Kyrie. Its not that tough of a decision. So I feel like if Lebron wins this year (a virtual certainly), it increases the probability of my slightly erratic theory to actually become reality. Plus they are just so much better than almost everyone they play, that I really felt they could do it. I actually think it was pretty funny how drained the Bulls looked after that game. They looked like they had just been through a war. That’s what it took to beat the Heat—one time! How on earth can anyone do it 4 times out of 7!
ZK: I’m happy because I don’t have to keep punishing my writers with questions regarding the streak. I’m sure they were thrilled upon seeing Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and company walk off the court defeated for the first time in 28 tries.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Jerry Bulone and Chris Manning have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”