Welcome to the sixtieth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Trevor Magnotti and Dan Pilar 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 Kyrie Irving’s shooting woes, Cleveland’s miserable week, intriguing early-season lineups, the possibility of the New York Knicks trading and the problem with social media and athletes.
First Question: What have you made of Kyrie’s shooting slump so far? Has he just hit a bump in the road, or is there something you’re noticing with the Xs and Os?
Trevor Magnotti: As I addressed to a small degree in my piece on the team-wide shooting issues, the Cavs aren’t running pick-and-rolls nearly as much as I think they should. Granted, I’m biased because I love PNR and teams who run it a ton, but the Cavs have so many pieces to make that offense work, and Kyrie is borderline elite at it. Also, I’ve noticed lately that Kyrie hasn’t been nearly as aggressive as we’ve seen before. He did take over the end of that Philly double-OT game, but at times he defers a little too much to his teammates, who haven’t shot well either. I think a renewed focus on PNR and the coaching staff telling Kyrie to start generating more for himself will do wonders for him.
Dan Pilar: Obviously what makes Kyrie an elite point in the NBA is his play-making ability. Another thing that makes him stand out from other point guards is that he’s an efficient shooter. He’s always been around 45 percent shooting from the field. This season, he’s down to 38 percent. Although the Kyrie we’ve seen so far hasn’t been impressive, his shooting will come around. A lot of it has to do with the Xs and Os. He’s a point guard in a new offensive system–a “Mike Brown offense”, if that’s the word for it–and he’s struggling to get comfortable. The team goes as he goes. Irving will have a breakout game, and that will be the turning point for the Cavs this season.
Second Question: The defense has been alarmingly bad this past week. Who needs to do a better job at pleasing Coach Brown?
TM: Honestly? Tristan Thompson could do a little better. Carlos Boozer went for 17/7 on him on Monday, followed by Kevin Love’s 33/8/6 on Wednesday. Josh McRoberts also had 13 for the Bobcats against him, and that may be the worst of all three. Thompson just has gotten worked this week. The Cavs could defend the point a little better as well, although they did a great job bottling up Kemba Walker in the Bobcats game, and the other two games featured Derrick Rose and Ricky Rubio. I’m okay with that. However, against the Wizards this week, they need Thompson to be on point, and he wasn’t last week.
DP: I don’t think you can single out one position that has been worse than another, but I think the shooting guard needs to improve defensively. Dion Waiters doesn’t have the size of a shooting guard Brown typically likes to have in his lineup, which makes me wonder if Waiters has a future here with Brown because you’ve seen him struggle. You have to be able to defend the shooting guard position for Brown, and if you can’t, he’ll find someone else who can. It doesn’t matter if they are no threat on offense. He started Anthony Parker for three years and he wasn’t any type of threat on offense. Waiters, Miles or whoever else plays the two guard needs to step their game up.
Third Question: What’s the most interesting lineup you’ve seen the Cavaliers put on the floor through 10 games?
TM: Chris sent me a text Monday just featuring a gamecast screenshot of a lineup the Cavs threw out against the Bulls. In the middle of the game, the Cavs played Jarrett Jack, Matthew Dellavadova, C.J. Miles, Anthony Bennett, and Henry Sims. For five minutes of game time. You can’t explain this decision to me. It is impossible. (They also played pretty well together, furthering my utter confusion).
DP: Anything with C.J. Miles and Anderson Varejao. Miles loves to shoot, Varejao loves to rebound.
Fourth Question: If the Knicks make an early-season trade, does it help them any in fighting for a top spot in the East or is the team a lost cause?
TM: I’m someone who is absolutely convinced that any trade before the 20-game mark is a panic-trade and hurts your team. I can’t see a reason to it, only because it takes everyone about 20 games to get into a rhythm, figure out their strengths and weaknesses, and determine an outlook on the rest of the season. Any trade before then is an overreaction in my opinion. Therefore, I really don’t think the Knicks should trade. I also don’t think they’re a lost cause, because the East is awful, and they can easily get back into things. Plus, they just got J.R. Smith back, so their main chaos agent has returned, which instantly makes them incredibly dangerous, as the game against the Rockets on Thursday showed.
DP: I understand what Trevor is saying and I like your theory, but this team isn’t going to win anything with the team they have, so if they get a favorable deal, they have to pull the trigger. This team has injuries, suspensions, and isn’t getting any younger. If they want to compete in the East, they’ll make a deal, soon. They electrified the NBA early last year with their three-point shooting, and this season they have been mediocre. They need to do something, or else they’re a lost cause.
Fifth Question: Social media and sports seem to have taken on a rocky relationship in the news lately, especially concerning the NBA. Why should this be considered a problem?
TM: Everything is just so much more public now. It’s quite easy for us to see something on Twitter or get access to texting records, and athletes can’t hide that stuff at all. 10 years ago? We’d likely have never found out about Richie Incognito’s texts to Jonathan Martin. Now, we can scrutinize players over Twitter and Instagram, and stuff comes out to media more easily. It’s just harder to get away with anything anymore. That being said, if you want an argument about why social media and the NBA isn’t a problem, my offering is to go read James “Flight” White’s timeline (@Flight8) sometime. That’s a justification for social media that’s better than any argument I could make.
DP: I completely agree with Trevor. I don’t think social media in sports is the problem, I think fans in social media are the problem. With how popular fantasy sports have gotten and other sports betting, fans have gotten attached to players or teams they never have. If I have Ray Rice on my fantasy team, and he doesn’t get me the 10 points and I need to win, then I’m going to be unhappy. And some fans don’t have a filter on Twitter and don’t think before they tweet. A perfect example is the Brandon Jacobs fiasco a month ago. I mean, how do you expect athletes not to be vocal on Twitter and express their opinions when they receive things like that, especially when it involves their family?
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Zak Kolesar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”