Welcome to the fiftieth 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 the Wine and Gold summer league, Kyrie Irving’s defensive struggles, the questions at small forward, NBA LVSL action and Brandon Jennings’ free agency landing spot.
First Question: Although summer league play should be taken with a grain of salt, who has been the bright spot on the Cavs roster for you thus far?
Trevor Magnotti: Matt Dellavedova’s looked really good for this team so far. As I mentioned in my Summer League Report, he’s been playing really well on defense, and arguably has been the team’s best distributor. He’s showing valuable leadership potential as well, and while his shooting’s an issue, he seems like the type who could definitely stick for a couple years in the league. Jason Lloyd reported Thursday afternoon that he’s drawing offers from Europe thanks to his performance in Summer League, and I hope that he turns them down and plays this season in Canton.
Chris Manning: Carrick Felix and it’s not even close. I haven’t watched a ton of the Summer League games, but from what I have, Felix’s hustle has been fantastic. He plays hard every minute and I could see him earning some minutes in Mike Brown’s rotation if he keeps that in camp come fall. Rebounding and on the ball defense is something other Cavaliers wings cannot provide and that makes him an interesting piece. He seems like a perfect Mike Brown type player and I like what he brings to the table.
Second Question: How do the Cavaliers address Kyrie’s defensive issues?
TM: I think part of Irving’s problem has been a lack of emphasis on that side of the ball from the coaching staff, which will certainly be fixed with Mike Brown at the helm. Under Byron Scott, it seemed like the focus was so much on developing Irving’s skills as a playmaker that defense was left behind. Irving did make a little improvement on that end, which I think comes naturally with experience for most guys. However, now that he’s in what should be a simpler system, a defensive-minded head coach, and (hopefully) two really quality defenders behind him in Anderson Varejao and Andrew Bynum, I expect Irving to make a good jump on the defensive end this season.
CM: As Trevor pointed out, the twin towers of Bynum and Varejao should help on the inside. Plus, Brown is the kind of coach who will make Irving play. He did something similar with LeBron James during his first tenure as coach, and I’d expect him to hold Irving to a similar standard. If Irving can develop a strong fundamental base and be a real two way player, he could have a true breakout campaign. Even if his jump isn’t huge, I expect Irving to be a better defender this year than he has been in the past.
Third Question: What is your early prediction of who will start at small forward and why?
TM: I think Earl Clark is going to be the starter to begin the season. The rookies will not be ready, and frankly we can’t even be sure if Anthony Bennett or Sergey Karasev are even good fits at the position. Then there’s Alonzo Gee, who’s……Alonzo Gee. Clark might be out of position, but he’s a guy who can space the floor better than Gee can, will rebound well, and adds more size to what could be a small lineup next year. I think Clark’s the safer option to start games in October, and in my ideal situation, would check out of the game early so we can get some small-ball action with Irving, Jarrett Jack, and Dion Waiters on the floor at the same time.
CM: Earl Clark and I don’t think this should be a discussion. He’s not a huge improvement over Alonzo Gee, but he is an improvement. He’s long, lanky and could set the Cavaliers up to have some huge lineups. It’s basically by default due to all the uncertainty and lack of a slam dunk starter, but it should be Clark. I’d be shocked if it was anyone else.
Fourth Question: Which player/team has been the most fun for you to watch in Las Vegas thus far?
TM: Jack Cooley of Memphis. By far. He’s probably another Luke Harangody/Dominique Jones type that kills it in Summer League but can’t do anything in the real NBA, but Cooley’s flashed a lot of potential as a shooter, post defender, and rebounder. Memphis’s Summer League team is a wreck, to be honest, but Cooley’s been a pretty good bright spot who torched the Cavs for 20 points in their game against him. I don’t think it’s a far stretch to think Jack Cooley will see an NBA roster spot at some point next season.
CM: Dennis Schroder was a treat to watch the Hawks. He played good defense and played Trey Burke and CJ McCoullum tough. For a player as raw as Scroder, that’s as much as you can ask for. I’m intrigued to see how he plays stateside come the start of the season. Side note: Andre Droummound was awesome in Orlando and I expect him to have a big season in Motown.
Fifth Question: Where do you think Brandon Jennings will land this offseason?
TM: Ultimately I think he’s headed back to Milwaukee, which will make for a hilarious team next season. Here’s the point guard situations that appear unsolved this coming season: Boston (Only because of Rondo’s injury), Detroit (I don’t get what they’re doing and they don’t really have space for Jennings), Milwaukee, Orlando (Probably another year of depressed Jameer Nelson), Kings. To me, the only teams there that would possibly have interest in Jennings are Milwaukee and Sacramento. Jennings probably doesn’t want to go to the Kings. Therefore, I think we get Jennings on the qualifying offer to the Bucks, some hilarious game play with O.J. Mayo in the same backcourt, and Jennings making bank by being some team’s Plan B next summer (Lookin at you, Lakers).
CM: Milwaukee and there really isn’t another good fit. There aren’t a lot of teams looking for a player like Jennings and he’s not worth the max deal he’s likely haggling for. Next year, when teams like the Lakers are going to look to blow money, I could see him leaving Milwaukee for a bigger market. But for next year, Jennings will be paired up with Mayo and Larry Sanders in a team that is going to be interesting to watch. I really can’t wait to watch the Bucks play the Knicks in a battle of two gun first, think later teams.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Dan Pilar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”