Welcome to the fifty-second installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Trevor Magnotti 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 expectations for the Wine and Gold, ranking the point guards in the Central Division, the Detroit Pistons offseason, Greg Oden in Miami and LeBron James as future president of the player’s association.
First Question: With summer league play over, what are you most looking forward to this upcoming preseason?
Trevor Magnotti: I am really looking forward to seeing how this team functions offensively in the preseason. It probably won’t be exactly what we’ll see in the regular season, but watching the games will still give us an idea. There’s a lot of ways this could go. Will the Cavs adopt Igor Kokoskov’s run-n-gun background? Will Mike Brown try to run a Princeton offense again? Or will they take a page from Rick Adelman in Minnesota last year and pick-and-roll teams to death? My vote is for the last one, because the Cavs have a ton of weapons to do this. However, we really have no idea what the team will be running, and that’s what makes it exciting.
Zak Kolesar: I’ll take the other side on this argument and say that although a lot of physical defense won’t be played in the preseason, I still want to see who Brown is going to go to. By this I mean that I’m excited to see which guys Brown is going to trust with playing time from a defensive standpoint, as we know that our new (old) head coach will surely yank a player lacking motivation on the defensive side of the ball. This especially goes for Andrew Bynum and Dion Waiters. Are we going to see a more controlled Dion than we saw last year? How is Bynum’s return to the court after taking over a calendar year off going to affect Brown’s defensive strategy? As Trevor pointed out, there are still so many questions on a team that could be very well-rounded if the cards fall into place.
Second Question: Where would you rank the five starting PGs in the Central Division?
TM: I really don’t get enough chances to power rank things.
1. Derrick Rose. The undisputed champion until we see him play. In my opinion we have to assume he’s still going to be a dominant player until he proves otherwise, and if he is even 80 percent of his former self (with what is almost guaranteed to be improved range) he’s still better than Kyrie Irving.
2. Kyrie Irving. The top two here likely change at some point this season, but right now Irving’s defensive lapses have him still behind Rose. However, I do think he’s approaching Rose’s level of playmaking ability, and if he improves his on-ball defense and three-point shot, watch out.
3. Brandon Jennings. I loathe Jennings, but the dude is talented. Just wish he’d get to the rim more.
4. George Hill. As inconsistent as Jennings but with less high points. He is, however, the perfect Pacers point guard.
5. Luke Ridnour/Brandon Knight. Have fun, Larry Drew!
ZK: No disagreeing with the reasonings behind your rankings, as I also agree that at some point we will see Kyrie take over Rose’s spot. I think this time comes earlier than some may think, as if Rose wants to be able to have a lengthy and successful NBA career, he’s going to have to adjust his interior game if he wants to avoid landing on something the wrong way again. I believe he’ll struggle right out the gate, and this will benefit Kyrie’s ranking among PGs in the Central Division immensely. You have three All-Star caliber players in this division, and I think that Kyrie will be the best of this crop by the end of this upcoming season. Defense, as Trevor stated, is the determining factor whether or not Kyrie makes that leap.
Third Question: How do you think the Pistons stack up now against the Cavs after the Jennings addition?
TM: They’re better defensively, because the J-Smoove/Drummond combo is going to be deadly. However, the Pistons take what we all hate about Dion Waiters (inefficient chucking) and can make a full lineup that does that. (Jennings/Stuckey/Caldwell-Pope/Smoove/Villanueva – ALL OF THE MISSED 18-FOOTERS). While Detroit does have a ton of talent, they have ABSOLUTELY no spacing, and their coach isn’t exactly an offensive wizard. In fact, he’s not a good offensive coach at all. While I think they could definitely do some damage at times, this team might be historically inefficient on offense. I still think the Cavs are going to be better.
ZK: With adding Josh Smith and Jennings this offseason, there is no middle for this team in my opinion. As for the Cavs, I think the same thing holds true, but for different reasons. It starts with inconsistent chuckers in Jennings and Smith, but at least they have an outside starting threat in Jennings now as you can see here by his career shot chart. But like I said, there’s very little middle here on this Pistons roster, which could result in them lurking with the Bucks near the bottom next season (which is what I see happening to Milwaukee now). For this reason, I think Cleveland, even if they have to battle some injury concerns to stars this upcoming season, will finish slightly above the Pistons this year.
Fourth Question: How do you think Oden works in Miami this season?
TM: They can rely on Haslem and Birdman in the regular season, let Oden sit similarly to what they did managing Mike Miller, and then unleash him in the playoffs as their game-changing big. This is the scenario where I think he has the best shot at competing, and the best shot of staying healthy. It makes too much sense to me.
ZK: With so many stars on this roster and an odd assortment of complimentary role players, all the attention won’t be on Oden’s return to the NBA on a team that is looking to three-peat. This fares well for the former No. 1 pick. His frame will give a smaller and faster team like the Heat more flexibility late in games, but I’m not expecting him to be someone who is brought in to slow down a guy like Roy Hibbert late in games, because you just can’t expect that after so many surgeries and being removed from the NBA for so long. Very low-risk move by the Heat, which could end up being one of the better role player signings of the offseason.
Fifth Question: What’s your opinion on LeBron pushing for the position of president of the player’s union?
TM: The guy holds a fair amount of clout with other players around the league, and he seems to have become a very savvy individual post-2010. I think it’s very possible he could do a great job, and after Derek Fisher, it’s not like he has much to live up to. I personally think a guy like the very personable Al Horford or the ridiculously smart Emeka Okafor would be the best choices for a job that requires negotiating with, you know, lawyers and businessmen, but LeBron wouldn’t fail completely.
ZK: I’m glad you brought up the point about Okafor. An NBA scout once said that Okafor’s high GPA (3.75 at Connecticut) was a concern for him, meaning that he was too smart to play in a league dominated by “dimwits.” That’s why I fear that, even though LeBron has gained popularity post-Decision after collecting two rings, he wouldn’t be the man to deal with that type of business.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Chris Manning have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”