Welcome to the forty-seventh installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Trevor Magnotti and Chris Manning sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. The combination of rotating RDE duos answer three questions regarding the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today the discussion revolves around how Anthony Bennett will fill in on Cleveland’s roster, Sergey Karasev’s fall, passing on a backup point guard, the madness of Thursday night and the team with the best draft.
First Question: How do you think Bennett fits in Cleveland’s system and what they have been doing in the rebuilding process?
Trevor Magnotti: Uhhhh……..I’m honestly not sure. He’s totally unaware on defense, which is a bit of an issue, especially for Mike Brown. Offensively, he’s more power forward than small forward, which means him and Tristan Thompson should probably not be on the court together. Bennett will stretch the floor with his shooting, which will be nice, but really I can’t see him helping the spacing on offense much with how he plays in the post. Honestly, as far as this season? I see him filling the Marreese Speights role (Who’s definitely gone in my mind with Bennett on board), coming off the bench, providing nice low-post O, not playing a lick of defense and adding a three-point threat. It’s also going to make Tristan Thompson expendable in the future, which might be good if he continues to progress, and the Cavs can flip him into an asset that helps the team more. It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens with this offense now.
Chris Manning: To be frank, I don’t see a natural fit for Bennett on this roster. In a way he’s the anti-Tristan Thompson, and that’s not the type of player who fits in naturally into the Mike Brown system. Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant told media that he is a power forward, and that puts a huge cloud over where (and with who) he will play with. You potentially could go small and play Thompson at the five, but that’s not a long-term starting five. As for this year, he’s the first big off the bench – a la Mo Speights like Trevor said. He’s still a raw player with below average defensive skills, and, knowing Mike Brown, he’s not going to get a large chunk of minutes off the bench right away. Overall, this continues the trend that Grant is going to take the player he thinks is the best player, regardless of position. Also, I think it’s possible that the Cavaliers have more faith in Tyler Zeller as a long-term piece than most fans, bloggers and journalists do. If they didn’t, it would have made either Nerlens Noel or Alex Len an obvious pick at No. 1. Moving forward, the rebuilding core could look like this: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao, Sergey Karasev, Thompson, Bennet and Zeller. It’s a not natural fit, but there are a lot of nice pieces in that group.
Second Question: Were you surprised that Karasev fell to the Cavs at No. 19?
TM: Shocked. Really shocked. All we had heard up to today was, “Karasev’s stock is rising!” and, “Teams better trade up because Karasev won’t be there past 13!” When Detroit took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at 8, I thought Minnesota might grab him at 9. They drafted Trey Burke. Then I thought Boston would take him when they traded up to 13. Again, I was wrong. Then, I was sure Minnesota was grabbing him at 14. Nope, it was Shabazz time. After Atlanta passed twice, that was when I felt like the Cavs might take him. Legitimately five times Thursday night I thought Sergey Karasev would get drafted before 19. That’s a steal for Cleveland, and I’m really happy he’s here.
CM: I was shocked. There were four or five times that I felt he was the obvious pick, but in this year’s chaotic draft, he was passed over as teams looked to make deals. When Atlanta was on the board at both picks, I thought he was coming off the board right there. The Cavaliers got incredibly lucky to not have to trade up for the draft’s second-best small forward. His game is limited, and he’s not going to be an all-around player like Otto Porter, but at 19 ,he is absolutely a fantastic pick. In a way, getting him late evens out what I think was a reach for Bennett. If he becomes a more athletic Kyle Korver (who has been in the league 10 years with one niche skill), then he’ll fit in on this team nicely.
Third Question: Do you think that Cleveland should’ve taken a point guard in the second round?
TM: Yep. I’ve been a big proponent of that as an offseason need, and I thought with a good crop of points in the second round (Erick Green, Pierre Jackson, Lorenzo Brown, Isaiah Canaan), I thought 31 or 33 would be a great time to take one. However, the Cavs must (I would think) be planning on getting someone in free agency, such as Beno Udrih or Patty Mills. I was pulling for Erick Green, but I’m ok with Carrick Felix and two second-rounders joining the Cavs’ asset pool.
CM: I thought so, and it’s not like they didn’t have options. Erick Green would have made a lot of sense, as would guys like Myck Kabongo, Peyton Siva and maybe even D.J. Cooper. Granted, everyone, sans Green, would have been a reach there, but they needed to fill that need. Shaun Livingston is a nice player and all, but he’s not a long-term answer behind Kyrie Irving. After small forward and acquiring a shot blocker, backup point guard is my biggest positional need. I’m interested to see how this is handled moving forward.
Fourth Question: What was the wildest event that happened on Thursday night?
TM: HOW DID FIVE TEAMS PASS ON NERLENS NOEL?????????????? Seriously, the knee must be a bigger issue than we thought, because there is no way that should have happened. I have no idea what the Bennett thought process was for Cleveland, but that’s a fine pick. Orlando and Washington got good value guys we knew they liked. Charlotte is, well, Charlotte, and picked Cody Zeller. I have nothing for you there. Phoenix is a nuthouse right now; I have no idea how you could possibly take Len over Noel, as I’ve stated numerous times. Then New Orleans grabbed him at 6, and made the most mutually beneficial trade of the night; They swapped Noel and a coveted ’14 firstst-rounder to Philadelphia, who is looking to rebuild, for an All-Star point guard on a great contract in Jrue Holiday. Philadelphia can now tank freely, and New Orleans has three potential All-Stars in Holiday, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Davis as well as a great sixth man or potential trade chip in Greivis Vasquez. That is by far the craziest thing of this draft to me. Charlotte, Phoenix, and yes, potentially Cleveland, are going to regret passing on Noel.
CM: Can you really pick one? The Sixers-Pelicans trade was incredible, with the Sixers trading away their best player for two rookies and shot at picking twice in the lottery next year. When Minnesota nabbed Trey Burke at No. 9, I had flashbacks to the T-Wolves taking Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn in the same draft. And then you have Cody Zeller going in the top five and the Celtics trading up to take Kelly Olynyk of all people. But, when forced to pick, I have to go with the Noel saga. For a second, I was salivating at the possibility of Anthony Davis and Noel playing side by side in the ultimately short-lived Block Party. When he got flipped to Philadelphia, I was shocked that Philadelphia gave up as much as they did. And for the Pelicans, in one swoop they fixed the Austin Rivers mistake by adding one of the leagues top point guards. I can’t wait to see how the future of these two teams plays out.
Fifth Question: Which team had the best draft night?
TM: I love Philly’s and New Orleans’ hauls, but man, Minnesota killed it tonight. They came away from the draft with Shabazz Muhammad, who I’m sure Chris is excited to see in a good situation, Gorgui Dieng as a terrifyingly good backup center and Lorenzo Brown, one of my favorite second-round prospects. Muhammad should work great with Ricky Rubio, and Rick Adelman is a great presence for him to develop under. Dieng can play right away in their frontcourt as well. And, on top of it all, they extended a qualifying offer to Nikola Pekovic and are one step closer to keeping the burly Serbian center. Minnesota has been a personal favorite of mine for quite some time now, and they made themselves a lot better with this draft.
CM: First off, you’re damn right I’m excited to see Shabazz in a good situation. And with the T-Wolves netting both Muhammad (who they got at a great value) and Gorgui Dieng, they had a really solid draft. My favorite, though, is the Sixers. They nabbed the guy I think is the best player in this draft (Noel) and a decent point guard prospect in Michael Carter-Williams. On top of that, they a) eliminated any need to even consider resigning Andrew Bynum and b) went into rebuilding mode at the right time. It’s tough for Philly fans to hear, but the team they had constructed wasn’t going anywhere significant. And with next year’s draft being so loaded with talent, they can rebuild without being strapped by Jrue Holiday’s contract. It’s not sexy now, but it’s practical. In a year like this, that’s a good draft. Low risk-high reward and maybe a chance to net a player like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker next June.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Dan Pilar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”