Welcome to the fifty-first installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Trevor Magnotti and Dan Pilar 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 Las Vegas Summer League thoughts, how many minutes Anthony Bennett will play, how much Tyler Zeller’s role will diminish by, which team that hauled in a superstar this offseason will see the most success and the best landing spot for Daniel Gibson.
First Question: With summer league play now over, what was your opinion of the younger Cavalier players?
Trevor Magnotti: I was pretty impressed with all of the guys who played on the summer league team and are likely to be around this fall. Dion Waiters struggled a bit to score efficiently, but as we saw when Kyrie Irving got injured last season, he did a great job at commanding the offense and getting to the rim consistently. I’d really, REALLY like to see him finish better at the rim, because he gets there with such ease, that if he hit even league average from that range, I believe he’d instantly transform from inefficient to a poor man’s in-his-prime Dwyane Wade. Tyler Zeller looked great offensively, which he should. I think he’s made exactly the right strides to be a useful player on offense this season, even if he’s still a sieve on defense. Carrick Felix is exactly the opposite. He flashed solid defensive tools, but his offense has a long, long way to go before he can be effective. He’s basically another Alonzo Gee right now. Finally, Sergey Karasev murdered inferior competition at the World Championships, which is exciting but probably not indicative of his NBA capabilities.
Dan Pilar: I don’t want to play the role of Debbie Downer, but I wasn’t really too impressed with anyone in Summer League. Waiters’ shot was off, and he struggled finishing period. Zeller’s numbers were decent, but if you compare them to last summer league’s stats, they’re pretty similar. And there wasn’t an “under the radar” player who shined in Vegas. I was hoping Matt Dellavedova or Kenny Kadji would turn heads, but they struggled in their first summer league adventure. Unfortunately, we were missing our two first-round draft picks, so we couldn’t see how they measured up with other teams’ younger players. But as Trevor alluded to, Karasev killed it overseas, which is making me feel really good about the Cavs’ No.19 overall pick.
Second Question: Since a few posts went up about minute usage this week, how much playing time do you want to see Bennett log?
TM: Great question! I have no idea. Ideally, I see him getting about 20-24 minutes per game to start the season, with that number slowly increasing as he progresses. However, I could also see him getting big minutes right away, or much lower minutes thanks to the apparent conditioning issues. We also can’t go off past tendencies from Mike Brown for playing rookies, because the equation Mike Brown + high lottery pick rookie has never been computed before. I would like to see him get about 20-24 minutes per game right away, with about 15 minutes at the four with a center or Tristan Thompson and about five minutes per game to experiment with Bennett at the three and some combination of Earl Clark/TT and Andrew Bynum/Anderson Varejao. I also think it would be fun to see the Cavs try to mimic the Thunder and go ultra small-ball with Bennett at center and a bunch of guards and Clark around him, because then the Cavs could legitimately have their five best shooting weapons on the court (Something like Irving/Jack/Waiters/Clark/Bennett) that would be really tough to defend for opponents, even though that lineup would give up ALL OF THE POINTS.
DP: I don’t think the number of minutes is a big concern for me, but I’m looking at the quality of minutes he puts out. He was given the title “tweener” during this year’s draft. This year, I want him to develop a position — whether it be small forward or power forward — so when 2014 comes around there is no experimenting with him. Since I have to put a number on the amount of minutes, I would say around 30 minutes. Trevor, I’m actually kind of surprised you guesstimated so low on his average minutes per game. If you predict he will average 24 minutes per game, that means he will be sitting on the bench for half the game. You can’t develop young talent with them sitting on the bench for that long. I hope the organization doesn’t force him into a position. It would be ideal to have him play small forward, but if his game doesn’t fit the small forward’s role, then don’t force it on him. He is a really talented player — and can be an elite scorer — at whichever position he may be playing.
Third Question: With two players ahead of Zeller who can play center, how many minutes do you think he will see in his sophomore campaign?
TM: Scenario A: Bynum and Varejao stay healthy, Zeller gets buried but still gets to learn from the coaching staff how to play defense and gets about 5-10 minutes per game depending on foul trouble. Scenario B: One of the guys above Zeller gets hurt, and the Cavs compensate by playing the healthy one of Varejao/Bynum about 25 minutes, Zeller 15 minutes and the other 10 experimenting with small-ball madness and Thompson at center. Scenario C: Bynum and Varejao get hurt (again), Zeller’s playing 25 minutes per game and Thompson plays a ton of center. I think B is the most likely.
DP: Thanks for specifying your answer for us, Trevor. Anyway….unfortunately — with the additions of Bynum and Bennett — Zeller will be the one seeing his role diminish vastly from last year. He will go from starting center last year to about ninth man off the bench. Although that will be his new role, I don’t think his minutes will go down all that much from last year, because the team will be cautious with Bynum. He averaged 26 minutes last season, and I predict his minutes go down to about 20. He has a great jump shot — something none of our big men posses (well…Bennett). But his jump shot will be relied on in certain games to open up the paint for Bynum
Fourth Question: Which All-Star that moved NBA homes do you think will have the most success this season and why?
TM: Clearly it’s Jrue Holiday. We don’t know what Dwight Howard is going to be next season, and Kevin Garnett is going to be switching positions, playing with a ball-dominant frontcourt teammate for the first time at 37 years old. Holiday is moving from a top three depressing situation in the NBA last season in Philadelphia (insane coach, injuries, lack of teammates that could score consistently, Spencer Hawes at center) to a team with a coach who runs a perfect offense for him with a ton of pick-and-rolls, teammates who can not only hit shots consistently, but also can compliment him with ball-handling and let him experiment off the ball, and two young, exciting defensive post players in Anthony Davis and Jeff Withey. Zach Lowe basically wrote a dissertation on the new New Orleans Pelicans a few weeks ago that’s required reading, but the main point is this: If the Pelicans can figure out their defensive issues, they are going to score a truckload of points next season and be extremely exciting in doing so.
DP: I really want to avoid saying Dwight Howard just because I don’t think the team will be as good as everyone thinks. James Harden is now the man in Houston, and he takes a lot of shots, something Howard didn’t like about being in L.A. I’m going to step outside the box and go with Chauncey Billups returning to Detroit. He might not have the most successful season, but he’s going to have a big impact on the Pistons. Like the Cavs, Detroit will be flirting with the playoffs next year, and they are likely going to make it, and Billups is a guy who you want on your team. He has made numerous big shots for teams, and if he is healthy, he can be a serviceable backup point guard for the team.
Fifth Question: Which team would be the best home for former Cavalier Boobie Gibson?
TM: Get this man to a contender. Basically at this point, Gibson is like the Spurs version of Steve Kerr — someone who really doesn’t have much to offer outside of shooting, and shouldn’t be playing extended minutes for someone, but once or twice in a playoff run is a lock to go nova and hit a bunch of shots he has no business hitting. If Derek Fisher can do this, Boobie Gibson can do this. I expect a playoff contender to pick him up, particularly one that needs off-guard depth and loves veterans (hi New York), could use a little more leadership on roster (hey Houston) or were absolutely and hilariously doomed by terrible outside shooting in last year’s playoffs (O HAI CHICAGO AND MEMPHIS). My smart money is on the Knicks because signing a guard that shot 34 percent from the field is an incredibly Knicks, or Grizzlies, move because it’d be a low-key signing, which they like to do, and Boobie’s Twitter presence fits right in with Tony Allen and Quincy Pondexter on the Twitter absurdity monarchs of the NBA. #gritngrind
DP: I think his best fit would be Cleveland. He loves the city, he’s played for Mike Brown and he was the center of the team’s chemistry from 2007-09. I would love to have him back as the team’s third point guard. He is a great three-point shooter, and that’s really all we need him for. However, if he doesn’t return to the Cavs, I would like to see him in Houston. He’s from the Houston area, and I’m sure he would love to play for his hometown team. Jeremy Lin isn’t the answer at point guard for the team. The Rockets love to get up and down the court, and they were second in the league in scoring with 106 points per game. Patrick Beverly showed promise, but after the Russell Westbrook fiasco, I’m assuming he doesn’t have too many friends and teams may be out for him. Houston would be another great fit for Boobie with his ability to come off the bench and hit the open three.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Jeff Mount have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”