Welcome to the twenty-second installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Chris Manning and Jerry Bulone 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 weak Central Division, Anderson Varejao as an All-Star, Jeremy Pargo’s role once Kyrie Irving returns, New York’s big win over the Miami Heat and early-season awards.
First Question: How would you rate the early play of the Cavaliers against a pretty weak Central Division?
Chris Manning: On a scale of one to 10, I would give it a 2.5. The Cavs are 0-4 against the ‘weak’ Central Division, and in order to be a good team in the NBA, you have to win games within your division. Losses against the Pistons, Bucks and Bulls are nothing to be ashamed of, but the Cavs really haven’t been competitive in those games. And in two of those losses (the first against Chicago and the game in Milwaukee) Kyrie Irving was playing. The Cavaliers really have to fix this issue and start winning games in the division if they want to take that next step moving forward.
Jerry Bulone: Well it has been a small sampling size, with only four games and three of those being on the road, so I am going to withhold my judgment; I will say this, when I look at the Central division I think the Cavaliers, with health on their side and a few more tweaks, can be right there with Milwaukee and Indiana. I do not see any clear-cut strengths they have over the Cavaliers.
Second Question: What makes Anderson Varejao All-Star material?
CM: First off, look at his stat line: 15.0 points per game, 15.4 rebounds per game, 50.2 percent shooting and a career high 77.2 percent shooting from the free throw line. To break down his rebounding further, Varejao is averaging 6.1 on offense and 9.3 on defense. Those numbers are outstanding, and to average 15 and 15 a game really speaks to how good Varejao has become. It’s also hard not to be impressed with how hard Anderson plays. He brings it every minute he is on the court, and that is something often missing at the top levels of the NBA. If he doesn’t make the All-Star team this season, it will be travesty.
JB: I made a very unpopular argument on Bleacher Report that Andy has been our best player this year, and I stand by it. He is leading the league in rebounding and has career highs in points, assists and steals. He is only averaging a few points less then Bosh and Lopez and has double the rebounds. If Andy is not an All-Star this year, then the game needs to be renamed “the most popular players on winning teams game.”
Third Question: Once Kyrie returns, what will Jeremy Pargo’s role be?
CM: In my mind, he has earned his place as Kyrie’s backup. Even though his play has dropped off in recent games, his body of work indicates to me that he is a better option than Donald Sloan moving forward. When Kyrie does come back, I expect him to still play 15-17 minutes a game as the Cavaliers ease Irving back into the flow of the game. When Kyrie fully gets back, Pargo should still play around 10 minutes a game when Kyrie gets a break and/or is in foul trouble. I wouldn’t even be opposed to the two playing as a duo from time to time if other combinations are not working.
JB: I think the real question is what will Boobie’s role be. I think Pargo can develop into be a solid back up. With him and Donald Sloan (whom I think is underrated), Gibson is expendable. Both players are younger (Sloan 24, and Pargo 22) and seem to play well when given the chance. Boobie’s three-point shooting may be missed, but at some point you can only have so many point guards and I think Gibson would have more value then Pargo or Sloan.
Fourth Question: Why do the Knicks match up against the Heat so well?
CM: To put it simply, the Heat are awful defensively, and the Knicks are superb on that end of the floor. The Knicks have a three-guard rotation that includes Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and 34-year old rookie sensation Pablo Prigioni. They have Carmelo Anthony, one of the best pure scorers in the NBA. They have solid role players like J.R. Smith and Steve Novak that can stretch the floor. They also have Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler on the inside, giving them a big advantage over Miami. Long term, I think Miami will figure it out and win the East, but the Knicks are a matchup nightmare for Miami. The Heat looked confused last night in the Knicks 20-point win, and it all goes back to Miami’s defensively play.
JB: I honestly do not think they match up that well. The two games this year New York was hot from three-point land. They hit 18 three pointers yesterday, and 19 on November 2nd. While the Knicks do have an advantage at center on the defensive side, it is not enough to overcome all the strengths Miami has in the long run. In their opening playoff series last year, the Knicks struggled and only managed one win, which was a two-point win at New York. So I think it’s more circumstance at this point.
Fifth Question: With the season almost one quarter through, who are your early season award winners (MVP, ROY, DPOY)?
CM: Right now, my MVP vote would go to Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks are playing the best basketball in the NBA right now, and he is playing the best basketball of his career, and I see the Knicks as a real contender in the East. My DOPY vote would be for Serge Ibaka, who leads the NBA with 3.26 blocks per game, with Anderson Varejao coming in second due to his rebounding ability. I give Ibaka my vote because he can change the game with a single swat, which historically is a weakness for Varejao (he only averages 0.7 blocks per game for his career). Last, the ROY at this point has to be Portland’s Damian Lillard. As a rookie, he is ninth in the NBA in scoring with 19.3 points game, and he has clearly been the best and most consistent rookie thus far.
JB: My MVP is Kevin Durant and it’s not even close. His team has the best record of all the serious candidates. He has become a much more efficient and all-around player, and as a result the team is still among the best in the West. ROY is a little closer, but it has to be Damian Lillard. He is leading all rookies in points and assists. He is shooting better then Waiters, and right now is the better all around player. DPOY is too close for me to call at this point, no one has separated themselves.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Zachary Kolesar and Dan Pilar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”