Welcome to the seventeenth 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 our starting lineups for the 2012-13 Cavaliers, Anderson Varejao’s leadership, Tyler Zeller’s first start, NBA commissioner David Stern announcing he will step down in 2013 and the Los Angeles Lakers 0-8 preseason.
First Question: Who do you have as your starting lineup for the Cavaliers?
Zachary Kolesar: Despite his late preseason success, I would still start C.J. Miles over Alonzo Gee to begin the season. He has proven to be a more effective scorer as a starter, averaging 11.9 points on 42.3 percent shooting from three. He also managed to force 2.1 steals per game, something that I would’ve liked to see more out of Waiters and Gee. Anyways, my starting five would be Kyrie Irving, Waiters, Miles, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.
Chris Manning: Right now, I have Kyrie Irving at point guard, Dion Waiters at shooting guard, Alonzo Gee at small forward, Tristan Thompson at power forward, and Anderson Varejao at center. I think this is highly likely, and that includes Waiters. Coach Scott seems to want him to start, and that is the direction I think they go in. The only switch I could foresee is C.J. Miles getting the call over Gee at small forward if Miles plays great the rest of the preseason.
Dan Pilar: The starting five for me goes Kyrie, Dion, Gee, Thompson, Varejao. At the end of preseason Gee really improved and earned his starting spot. Varejao looked terrible, so it is only a matter of time until Zeller takes his spot. Looks like Miles will come off the bench but still receive “starter” minutes. He got experience in the starting lineup and coming off the bench and he was able to produce in both roles.
Second Question: Anderson Varejao didn’t really step up as the veteran leader that Cleveland needs with Antawn Jamison going to the Lakers and Anthony Parker retiring. Are you concerned?
ZK: I’m not too worried, only because this team has an average age of 24.9 years, which will end up being one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Irving has already emerged as the general on the court and the vocal leader of the team, and he isn’t even 21 yet. You don’t have to be a five-plus-year veteran or even be given the captain label to be a leader. A leader is someone who can step up without having anyone tell them they need to. I am disappointed with how Varejao has played and acted lately, but others have stepped up in his place.
CM: I am very concerned. A team as young as Cleveland needs a veteran leader, and Varejao has to be that guy. He is the longest tenured Cavalier, and by default, he has to be the leader on this team. If not, who will be? I don’t see Luke Walton filling that role and C.JJ. Miles would be the next guy up based on experience. If Varejao does not step, then the Cavs will have a serious void in leadership.
DP: This was the concern the entire offseason – who was going to step up and be a leader of this team. With a team full of 20-some year olds, you had to of known this was going to be a problem. Our two more experienced players, Varejao and Gibson, were pretty quiet all preseason. Irving showed the most leadership on the court. His leadership presence and calmness on the court have shown me he is ready to take the next step and become an elite player.
Third Question: What did you think of Tyler Zeller’s first start this preseason against the Indiana Pacers?
ZK: As far as holding his own against one of the Association’s best centers in Roy Hibbert, I thought he did a remarkable job. Zeller scored 13 points, recorded seven rebounds and shot 5-of-8 from the field, while holding Hibbert to four points and five rebounds. He didn’t let the Indiana center dominate in the paint, which is something that the Cavaliers had problem with last season. Having Zeller’s presence will really help this year on defense.
CM: I liked what I saw. Zeller is NBA ready, and I like his chances to contribute right away. He beings an all-around skill set to the table that no other Cavalier big man has. He was active against Indiana and the pairing of him and Anderson is an interesting one. I hope to see a lot of that this season, and long term, I could see that pair starting for Cleveland.
DP: He was great. He was going up against an All-Star center in Roy Hibbert and he certainly held his own. He has had some rookies moments like forcing shots or committing stupid turnovers, but for the most part he has proven to Byron Scott that he belongs out there. Like I said before, it’s only a matter of time before Zeller takes Varejao’s spot in the starting rotation.
ZK: Even though his tenure has been long and full of controversial decisions and moments, I will most remember him for being apart of the era of unlikeable commissioners. When was the last time that you can remember a commissioner being well received by most people? What Stern did for the NBA, however, is tremendous. He brought culture to the league, helped make players marketable and made NBA games into celebrity-crazed events. He has forever changed the landscape of a professional basketball game.
CM: I will remember his blunders over the last decade. So many times over the last decade Stern has looked idiotic and has made himself an enemy of the fans. The lockout was largely caused due to him, and that was just one of many errors during his reign. He did a lot for basketball globally, and I will always respect him for that, but above all I will remember Stern for his blunders. It is the right time for Stern to step down and retire from his duties as NBA commissioner.
DP: What I will remember most about David Stern…..money. He has shaped the NBA into a multi billion dollar organization, something that no one would have ever of expected before his tenure. Prior to the Stern era, America was not interested in basketball. Now I know most people do not like him, I still believe the draft lottery is fixed. But he has done so much for the game and deserves more respect that he receives.
Fifth Question: The Lakers went 0-8 in the preseason. Should NBA analysts really look into what they see in these games?
ZK: I think everyone will agree with a resounding “no” on this one. The preseason, especially in the NBA, is not very reflective on how a team will perform in the regular season. One of the only statistics that has a strong correlation between the preseason and regular season is shooting percentage. If you can’t hit shots against backups and players playing minimalist defense, you’re not going to have what it takes to turn it on once the real deal comes along.
CM: No – it’s the preseason. Like the NFL, the preseason means nothing in the NBA. The Lakers being 0-8 is no indication of what kind of the team they will be this season. When the regular season starts, they will be the monster team everyone expected and no one will remember their awful preseason. They’ll be talking about Steve Nash contending for a title and whether or not Dwight Howard will be staying is Los Angeles long term. The preseason means nothing.
DP: Everyone knows preseason wins don’t mean anything. I did not watch all their preseason games, but I did catch two of them. I didn’t think they played that bad. They played well enough to win, just wasn’t able to close it out. They shouldn’t be concerned about the lack of wins; they should be concerned about their coach. Cavs fans know Mike Brown’s track record and know the coaching ability he lacks. He’s no longer in Cleveland; if you underachieve in LA…they’ll dismiss you.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Chris Manning, Dan Pilar and Zachary Kolesar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”