Welcome to the fourteenth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” Every Friday Chris Manning, Dan Pilar 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 the weight loss of Samardo Samuels and Dion Waiters and the weight gain of Tristan Thompson, who Bryon Scott will get on at camp first, the new Cavalier home jerseys, FanSided NBA Rank and the player with the biggest storyline this season.
First Question: More impressed with the weight loss from Samardo Samuels and Dion Waiters or weight gain from Tristan Thompson?
Zachary Kolesar: I think we’ve talked enough about the weight that Samardo Samuels and Dion Waiters lost. The newly svelte Samuels lost 30 pounds and the out-of-shape Waiters lost 10 pounds. What I’m more impressed by is the work that Thompson did during the offseason, according to Cavalier officials, and the 15 pounds that the sophomore power forward put on. This is interesting because I think it makes him a more valuable asset to start at power forward to begin the season. He spent countless hours in the gym, working on developing a 15-footer to go along with his inside presence. Beefing up will help the defensive side of his game, which is the reason why the Cavaliers picked him so high two years ago. I think we’ll see a breakthrough year from Thompson.
Chris Manning: I’m much more impressed with the weight loss of Samardo Samuels and Dion Waiters. Both guys had some extra weight hanging around their mid section, and that weight loss should help make them move quicker on both ends of the floor. Also, this should help both players fit in with Kyrie Irving a little bit better. Irving has the ability to push the ball up the court in a fast break if he wants, and if he has these two guys as targets, the chances of the Cavaliers scoring on fast breaks goes up tremendously. Lastly, weight gain can sometimes be an issue. I know Thompson gained muscle, but questions linger. Is it good muscle? Will it change his game? Or will it only make him better. Let’s see how that one plays out.
Dan Pilar: The most impressive has been Samuels’ weight loss. Last year he couldn’t get time on the court because he would struggle getting through a Byron Scott practice. Now, with this weight loss, he has proven to the coaches and the fans that he is dedicated and wants to be a frequent contributor game in and game out for this team. I think he can be a great asset to this team and brings a physical presence in the paint that the Cavs haven’t had since Robert “Tractor” Taylor.
Second Question: Coach Scott has been really happy with the way his players have been working so far. Who should he have his eye on though?
ZK: Honestly, I really don’t think there is one player to single out as someone that Byron Scott will get on right away. Players are expected to come into camp in tip-top shape, and veterans have warned newcomers that they don’t want to push Scott’s buttons. Dion Waiters is still not in the shape that coach Scott wants him in, but who really is? Scott expects the most of his players, as any good professional coach should. He’s been voted one of the top coaches in the NBA that athletes wouldn’t want to play for because of his stern demeanor. I’ve heard that Waiters looks very good, but I think Scott will ride him the most because he is a rookie and was struggling with conditioning problems in the summer.
CM: He should have his eye on Dion Waiters. Before I declare myself a believer in the Syracuse product, I want coach Scott’s seal of approval on his training camp, his work ethic, and what kind of shape he is in. I want to know that he is ready to start day one because, in all likeliness, that is what is going to happen. Waiters is going to have a lot of responsibility early on this season, and training camp is first on that to-do list. I want proof that he is ready to play in the NBA, and coach Scott’s seal of approval is the first step in that process.
DP: He needs to keep an eye on Dion Waiters. He had to work hard to get the extra weight off he put on in the summer, but I’m worried about his relationship with Scott. It was known that Waiters didn’t have a pleasant relationship with his head coach, Jim Boeheim, at Syracuse. Boeheim couldn’t keep him off the court because of the talent Waiters has, but he wasn’t a starter because Boeheim didn’t like his attitude. Scott is a similar coach, and I hope they have started out on the right foot and we won’t have to see the same thing happen in Cleveland
Third Question: What do you think of the new Cavalier uniforms that were on display during media day?
ZK: The sports industry has turned into a fashion show, and rightfully so. It’s a great way to make money, but it seems that if Cleveland is one of those sports cities that hasn’t totally hopped on the trend. The Browns haven’t down anything at all with their sad excuse for a uniform and the Indians will probably never bring the old Wahoo back for a possible throwback alternate. With that said, I really like the direction the Cavaliers went with their new gold home alternates. I despise white home jerseys, so at least this is a step in the right direction.
CM: I’m a fan of the new gold uniforms. I think that they are a cool throwback to the Cavalier origins, and no other team in the NBA has jerseys like these. They are also simple, which I think is key to have a good NBA jersey. Teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and the Phoenix Suns have busy, ugly jerseys that aren’t appealing on TV. These new Cavs jerseys won’t have that problem, and I hope they are here to stay long term. Plus, anything is better than the Cavs jerseys from the 90’s.
DP: They’ve worn gold in previous years, so it was nothing impressive to me. What I am excited for is when they wear the 90’s black and electric blue jerseys. They designated a few nights to retro nights and will be sporting those jerseys. They haven’t worn them in over ten years, so it should be exciting.
ZK: Chris Paul (5) is the best point guard in the Association right now. I think that will change in a couple of seasons, but for now he holds the throne. I think a lot of people are sleeping on Kobe Bryant (4). He may not be the best player in a Lakers uniform nowadays, but he is still one of the scariest scorers in the league. The injury and the complaining hurt Dwight Howard’s (3) chances of being named the second best player, but I think he will benefit from being around teammates such as Steve Nash who will only make him look better. This will probably go back and forth a lot this season between Kevin Durant (2) and LeBron James (1), but until someone takes LeBron down from the MVP heir, he’s the best in the game.
CM: My Top 5 was as follows: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Dwayne Wade. LeBron is clearly the best player in the league, as he truly can do everything possible on both sides of court. Durant, at No. 2, is the best pure scorer in the league, but he needs work with rebounding and defense. Kobe, at three, is still the “Black Mamba” and no one can close a game like him. Howard, at No. 4, changes games with his defense and is ever improving offensively. Lastly, with Wade at No. 5, I see a player who is clutch, skilled and tough, but not quite on the level of his teammate LeBron.
DP: My top 5 consisted of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. It’s nothing too surprising. I just will be keeping a close eye on Howard in LA. He is starting there with a back injury, something that you can’t take lightly.
Fifth Question: We saw Metta World Peace and Jeremy Lin surprisingly steal the spotlight at times last NBA season. Who do you think will fill that role this season?
ZK: Andrew Bynum. He’s already off to a bad start. After receiving knee treatment in Germany this summer, the Philadelphia 76ers decided to shut him down for three weeks. There will be a lot of Laker-76ers reports and comparisons, even though it won’t be fair at all. They’ll talk about Bynum needing the Lakers and Kobe in order to reach his full potential if he struggles in Philadelphia. ESPN will try and make a story out of anything, and I feel like they will use Bynum to pick on often.
CM: It wouldn’t shock me to see Metta World Peace steal the spotlight again because no one really knows what is going on in that crazy brain of his. Besides Mr. Peace, I’m looking at O.J. Mayo to have a good season in Dallas. He may never live up the hype he had in high school, but all reports have him being more focused than ever heading into this season. Plus, Chauncey Billups reportedly becoming a mentor and a major reason he signed with Dallas have me thinking Mayo is going to have a breakout season in Dallas. It won’t be anything major like Linsanity was, but nonetheless I’m expecting good things from Mayo.
DP: Guessing one player to breakout this year is difficult to say, but watch out for the Portland Trailblazers. They haven’t been relevant since Brandon Roy went down with his knee injuries,but they drafted the biggest playmaker in the draft this past year in Damian Lillard. I didn’t agree with the Meyers Leonard pick at No. 11, but they have a lot of young talented players – similar to the Cavs. I don’t see them as a playoff team, but they will be competing for an eight seed in the playoffs for a good part of the year.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Chris Manning, Dan Pilar and Zachary Kolesar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”