Welcome to the twenty-fifth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Zachary Kolesar and Chris Manning 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 head coach Byron Scott’s decision to have Dion Waiters come off the bench against the Sacramento Kings, Anderson Varejao’s nagging injury, improvements from the Cavs in 2013, Andre Miller’s historic feat and Amar’e Stoudemire’s return to the hardwood.
First Question: What did you make/think of Coach Byron Scott’s decision to bring in Dion Waiters off the bench on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings?
Zachary Kolesar: I’ve been hinting at this for some time now, and to finally see it come to fruition made me relieved. I understand that the Cavaliers didn’t use a No. 4 pick as a bench piece, but I at least wanted to see how he would perform in a James Harden-type role. This move doesn’t mean that C.J. Miles is the long-term answer at the two, but it’s a move that should happen from time to time when either one is struggling. Waiters still put up close to 20 shots on Wednesday, so I don’t see the problem with the non-permanent move Scott made.
Chris Manning: I liked it for several reasons. First off, it gave C.J. Miles (arguably the hottest Cavalier on the roster) to start and play more minutes. Second, Waiters has struggled so far this season (only shooting 36.6 percent from the field), far below the 50 percent clip we would like him to be near. He looked very comfortable coming off the bench, scoring 14 points in the second quarter alone. Lastly, it was a change of pace for a sometimes-stagnant Cavaliers team. It may not be a permanent change, but it was refreshing to see a different look.
Second Question: With Anderson Varejao being out for the rest of the weekend, how do you think he will impact the team once he returns?
ZK: Due to coach Scott’s practice-before-you-play policy, Wild Thing won’t be playing in either weekend matchup against the Charlotte Bobcats and Houston Rockets. This means he will miss his eighth and ninth consecutive games with a nagging knee injury. Obviously Andy’s physical presence is being missed, as Tyler Zeller has left a gaping hole in the paint throughout this seven-game stretch. Teams have averaged 40.6 points in the paint without Varejao in the lineup, which isn’t a totally atrocious number. However, Andy will not allow his team to get worked in the paint like they have been once he returns (hopefully) next week.
CM: Once he shakes off any rust, I think there is no doubt he makes the Cavs a much better team. Tyler Zeller has looked pitiful since Varejao has been out, and the Cavaliers have also rebounded at a lower clip with Anderson out – going from 11th best in the NBA to 18th. He’s simply too good to fully replace right now, even with Tristan Thompson playing well right now. Similar to when Kyrie Irving came back, expect Varejao to give the Cavs huge skill and energy boosts when he finally makes his return.
Third Question: What would you like to see most from the Cavaliers in 2013?
ZK: There are many persisting problems with this ball club, but this team needs to learn how to perform in the fourth quarter in order to make the next step. Out of the team’s 26 losses, 22 of them have happened with Cleveland trailing by six points or less entering the final 12 minutes (per Sam Amico). Cleveland ranks 28th in fourth quarter points per game (22.0), while teams at the top of the list include the Spurs (first), Thunder (third), Clippers (fifth) and Knicks (seventh). We need a Kyrie takeover sooner rather than later.
CM: I want to see improvement in all areas of the game. They’ll need it in order to make that next step, and there are several players who have things they can improve on right now. For Kyrie Irving, I want to see large improvements on defense. I want to see Dion Waiters develop a consistent jump shot. I want to see Tristan Thompson become a more reliable and consistent player on the offensive end, and I want to see Tyler Zeller defend and rebound with more toughness than we have seen recently. I could easily go on, but I think my point is clear: I want to see the Cavaliers improve and grow as a team in 2013.
Fourth Question: How impressed were you to hear that Andre Miller became the eighth player in NBA history to score 15,000 points and record 7,500 assists on Thursday?
ZK: In 13 seasons Miller racked up over 15,000 points and 7,500 assists while averaging 13.9 points and 7.1 assists over his career. He has done this by never averaging over 17.0 points in a season and only eclipsing 10.0 assists per game in his third season (2001-02) with none other than the Cavaliers. Guys who can make a legend out of their career while doing it quietly deserve the most praise of all. Congrats, Rattlesnake.
CM: Count me as very impressed. Miller has long been underrated in my mind, and it’s good to see him hit such a big milestone. As only the eighth player to get those statistics, Miller puts himself in the history books for all time, even if he is not the biggest name. The former Cavalier was never and will never be an elite player in the NBA, but he’s always been pretty darn good and remarkably consistent. Here’s hoping he gets the praise he has always deserved.
Fifth Question: Can Amar’e Stoudemire help the New York Knicks as a role player?
ZK: Stoudemire made the right choice by declaring that he would be fine playing a bench role before he returned from knee surgery in October after the drama that consumed him throughout the 2011-12 season. Although he got right back to the headlines by taking a stab at former head coach Mike D’Antoni and declaring that he had never been taught defense in the NBA, the Knicks starting rotation has flourished without him. No need to mess up chemistry there, and Amar’e will help compliment the already-flourishing New York bench that consists of long-range threats J.R. Smith and Steve Novak.
CM: Without question, Amar’e can help the Knicks – it all just depends on his attitude and willingness to come off the bench. So far, he seems willing to play off the bench. If he keeps that up, he can easily be one of the best bench players in the league – even if he is incredibly expensive. Even without him, I viewed the Knicks as a viable threat in the East. Now, with him, they are even more dangerous than before. If they can adjust and his attitude stays good, the sky is limit for that team.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Chris Manning and Dan Pilar have to discuss at the “Weekly Roundtable.”