Welcome to the twelfth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” Every Friday Chris Manning 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 how we felt about Tristan Thompson’s rookie season, Anderson Varejao expectations, what Cavalier player would make the best NFLer, our thoughts on Columbus getting an NBA team and if expansion or downgrading will happen first in the Association.
First Question: Our very own Chris Manning just did a profile on Tristan Thompson. How did you feel about Thompson’s rookie performance?
Zachary Kolesar: Seeing as Tristan Thompson was drafted for his defensive play, I think he is still a work in progress and had some flashes of brilliance in his rookie season. Over the last three months of the NBA season, we started to see the Thompson that Cleveland had hoped for when they drafted him at No. 4 in the 2011 NBA draft. He recorded his first double-double on February 19, and tallied nine for the season. Offensively, he surprised me with the explosiveness in his game. In his one collegiate season he accounted for almost 50 percent of the team’s blocked shots (86) and the team dominated whenever he was on the court (Only few instances with a negative Plus/Minus). With that said, I feel like Thompson didn’t meet those high defensive expectations due to him being cast into the center role. He’s much better suited at the four until he beefs up his game down low.
Chris Manning: As I alluded to in my article, I liked Thompson’s rookie season overall. He got better as the season went on, especially when he started. His free throw shooting was better than it was at Texas, and he really has himself set up well for this season. His rookie season excited me, and overall made me a believer in his talent. The biggest thing we can take away from this rookie season is that Thompson should be the starter at power forward. His stats are better there, and you don’t normally take a guy with the No. 4 pick overall to be a bench role player.
Second Question: Do you think that Anderson Varejao will start back up from where he left off last season?
ZK: A successful outing across the water made me very confident that Varejao will come ready this season to put up career bests in rebounds and blocked shots. He by far has the most hustle on the team, and as a veteran leader, is the second-most important piece on Cleveland’s roster. A whole season with him hopefully playing next to Thompson and working with Kyrie Irving will better the, at times, hapless defense of last season. I’m glad Andy wasn’t whisked away in a trade for draft picks or part of the Dwight Howard mega trade because the Cavaliers need him this season if they want to compete in the East. I think we’ll see a 10/12 point/rebound average.
CM: Yes, I do. Anderson is entering the prime of his career at age 29, and until he got hurt, was having the best season of his NBA career without question. Behind Kyrie Irving, he is the Cavs second-best player, as well as one the most underrated big men in the NBA. He averaged a double-double last season, something only sixteen other players in the NBA did. That double-double average put him in the same stats category as players like Tim Duncan and Chris Bosh. He can’t score like them, but Varejao is a hustler, and I expect him to have another stellar season for the Cavs.
Third Question: A change of pace, but which Cavaliers player do you see the most fit to play in the NFL?
ZK: Speaking of Wild Thing, I think he would be the best suited and my favorite player to put on an NFL uniform out of those on the Cavaliers roster. And just like many other collegiate basketball stars turned NFL player, I would slot Andy at the tight end position. He’s the most physical on the Cavaliers team and moves very quickly on the court. Just like the lane, the red zone would be his home. I feel like with his hair and personality he would be one of the most polarizing players in the NFL if successful. I would just love to see him put a shoulder into a defender. His 6-11, 260-pound frame puts him only 10-20 pounds heavier and six-seven inches taller than all-pro tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.
CM: I can’t help but think that Kyrie Irving could be a Michael Vick-type quarterback in the NFL. He’s insanely quick and has great vision as a point guard that would aide him in a transition to quarterback. Tyler Zeller would be my next pick. At 7-0 and having great hands, could you imagine him as tight end in the red zone? All you’d you have to do is throw a fade route or a quick slant and bam, you have a touchdown. Lastly, I think Luke Harangody would be a solid tight end as well. At 6-7, 245 pounds he’s got the frame and is solid fundamentally with his footwork. Also, power forwards make good tight ends – Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates both played the position in college before making the transition to the gridiron.
Fourth Question: What are your thoughts on Columbus wanting to reboot a basketball franchise in their city?
ZK: With the city of Columbus purchasing Nationwide Arena, Mayor Michael Coleman has made it clear to the NBA that he wants a team to come to the city. I don’t like this at all. It only makes sense for big states like New York, Texas and California to home more than one NBA team, and adding a second team to the state of Ohio to a city that already has the surrounding Buckeyes wouldn’t be a smart move by the NBA. The way Columbus residents feel about their Buckeyes is more passionate than how most fans feel about an NBA team. If the NBA is going to allow another addition or if the Sacramento Kings are going to be on the move, Columbus is far down my list of locations a professional team should land.
CM: I’m not a fan of this. Columbus has Ohio State, and that’s enough by my estimation. I know their mayor wants a team, but look how professional sports do in Buckeye country. The Blue Jackets of the NHL have woeful attendance records, and that city is all about Ohio State athletics. Going to a city with a big college sports culture would be a bad move. Why go somewhere where you’d have to compete for fans that have easier, cheaper access to a college game (i.e. Ohio State students)? If the NBA is serious about another team, and they want to put that team in Ohio, they should look at Cincinnati before Columbus.
Fifth Question: Going off the last question, will the NBA expand their horizon before they cut teams from the league?
ZK: Neither. I think we will see teams such as the Kings and Toronto Raptors actually moving to other sites before a new team is added or a city struggling with bringing up attendance is cut from the NBA. Musical chairs will have a lot to do with this, as stars are getting out of a situation as soon as they see a hint of not being able to compete for an NBA championship right away. Stars demanding trades or not looking back once they become free agents will only destroy fandom in the Association. This will cause fans to become less attached to a particular team and will eventually cause attendance records to go way down. For small market teams, it seems the only way to build nowadays is through the draft.
CM: I expect the NBA to expand before they cut down the league. Basketball is growing globally, and there are markets in United States feigning for an NBA team. Ideally, I’d like to see the Kings stay in Sacramento, and the NBA to add a team in Seattle and Virginia Beach. Other options for expansion would be Cincinnati, Baltimore, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh. That way Seattle gets their SuperSonics back and the NBA can move into a new market. If the Kings get moved like I expect them too, then an expansion team should be put in Sacramento to replace their lost team. If the NBA does expand, they test out the market like they did for Oklahoma City to see what finds will actually come out for games long term. That way, they know what they are getting into and won’t take flack for picking a bad market.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Chris Manning and Zachary Kolesar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”