Welcome to the sixty-first installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Trevor Magnotti and Zak Kolesar 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 Cavaliers offensive struggles, Mike Brown’s lineups, analyzing the shooting guard position, Cleveland’s weekend road trip and Derrick Rose’s play through nine games.
First Question: With their offseason acquisitions, the Cavaliers had the potential to run effective PnR lineups this season. So far, the offense has lagged and the PnR is nonexistent. What lineup do you think can fix the Cavaliers problems?
Trevor Magnotti: First off, I feel that it isn’t so much a specific lineup that could fix this problem, as much as a change in offensive philosophy. The Cavs aren’t running PnR as much because Mike Brown doesn’t want to, and that is a fatal flaw in the Cavs offense so far, in my opinion. However, if we’re working on strictly PnR, a lineup of Irving/Jack/Miles/Thompson/Zeller would be best. Kyrie needs a good pick-and roll and a good pick-and-pop threat to truly succeed here, with two solid shooters to keep the lane open for him to work. I like this lineup because Zeller can pick-and-pop surprisingly well, and Thompson can run rolls as well as crash the glass when plays are run for Zeller. Miles and Jack should help space things out in this set, and Jack can also run the PnR while Kyrie spots up. It’s not perfect, but a little bit more of this lineup would at least make things interesting.
Zak Kolesar: As soon as the meticulous injuries clear up, I hope that we start seeing a lineup consisting of Irving, Jack and Miles. As long as these players aren’t all in to start the game, this is a unit that will definitely succeed offensively. It’s what the Cavaliers are searching for right now, and no amount and hustle and hard defense by Matthew Dellavedova will help the Cavs to victory. It’s good that players like Delly are getting rewarded with starting time because of their hard work, but I don’t want to see this proceed much more after 20 games.
Second Question: Mike Brown has been experimenting with lineups through the first 11 games. Is this hurting the Cavaliers chances at building chemistry with their core players?
TM: As I talked about on the podcast this week, I think this is exactly what the Cavs need to be doing so far this season. They’ve really been struggling in their most common lineups they throw out, so Brown going deep on the bench allows him to tinker and truly find the best lineups for the Cavs to use. For example, last Saturday Brown went with Matthew Dellavedova in crunch time paired with Irving and Jack, and while that seems absurd, it worked! I’d rather see this early in the season than a tendency to just stick with lineups that aren’t working at all. I’d rather struggle for 20 games, find the ideal lineups, and turn it on for the final 60 games than get stuck in lineup mediocrity for 40 games, then make a panic trade because you never found the groups that work together. The Knicks actually did this last year due to injury, and that’s how they stumbled upon the “Holy crap, Melo at power forward is unstoppable!!!” revelation. I’m totally okay with the multitude of different looks the Cavs have used so far this season.
ZK: I’m opposed to some of the moves that they are making, but I’m also satisfied with the experimentation Brown is using as you mentioned. Irving, Jack and Dellavedova in the same lineup has garbage time written all over it, but it helped the Cavaliers to win their fourth game and first one on the road. A situation like Jeremy Lin’s is like catching lightning in a bottle, but in the meantime we an find out which players are going to be seeing consistent minutes come 2014 with what Brown is doing right now.
Third Question: How frustrating are the Cavaliers issues at shooting guard this season?
TM: I feel like we all knew that there were going to be issues here this season, so honestly this doesn’t frustrate me. Dion’s actually been slightly better when he has played this season, it’s just the attitude problems that you have to worry about. Also, C.J. Miles has been the best player on the floor at times for the Cavs this season. If anything frustrates me here, it’s that Sergey Karasev isn’t getting minutes, which will come with time. I’d much rather discuss the lack of production at the three than hate on Dion Waiters.
ZK: We could discuss the problems at three ad nauseam, but as far as shooting guard goes, Miles has been the only player to latch onto his role. Whenever he’s checked into the game as a reserve, he’s been a double-digit threat every night. With Dellavedova seeing an increase in minutes lately, I’m on your side with wondering why Sergey isn’t seeing minutes. With Carrick Felix still battling a sports hernia and Miles dealing with a recent injury issue, it looks like we’ll be seeing more Dellavedova and Waiters being inserted back into the starting lineup at the two in the near future, which isn’t a good thing.
Fourth Question: With tilts against the Spurs and Pelicans this weekend, how likely is it that the Cavs come back home with at least one win?
TM: I feel like the Cavs could steal either of these games. New Orleans has been erratic this season, convincingly winning their last two, but also losing to the Jazz and Lakers by double-digits. I’m convinced anything could happen Friday. Saturday, the Spurs are also coming off a back-to-back and could rest a bunch of guys, so I wouldn’t be surprised with any result in that game, either.
ZK: That’ll be the Pop thing to do, especially if the Cavs drop their contest in New Orleans a day prior. However, I think this will be a great test matchup wise for the Cavs. Last season the Hornets (now Pelicans) provided a great benchmark game for the Wine & Gold on ESPN last season. New Orleans looks ahead of the Cavaliers at this point, but who hasn’t this season? Even after beating the Timberwolves and Wizards in their first matchup with these teams this season, the Cavaliers were blown out in the following game. They’ve only beaten one team—the Brooklyn Nets—in 11 games who hasn’t beaten them in another game this season. Time to fight for another one.
Fifth Question: D-Rose recently gave an assessment of himself by filling in a report card given to him by a grade-school student. He gave himself straight As. How would you assess Rose’s play so far?
TM: He’s averaging 15/3/4 through nine games so far this season, which certainly isn’t up to his standard, but has worked well enough for Chicago. His shooting has been abysmal, but he is hitting a career-high three-point percentage, which is good. Defensively Rose hasn’t looked too terrible, which was a big concern for me since I thought his lateral quickness might have been sapped by the injury. While he’s certainly not up to par for what we know Rose’s ceiling is, nine games post-ACL return isn’t really a good enough time frame to make quality judgments of how the injury is affecting his play. I like what I’ve seen so far from Rose, I just know he could do better, particularly in scoring and distributing.
ZK: Yeah, besides from the tumultuous shooting, he’s put up good averages across the board for his 6-4 Bulls. I don’t think the injury has affected his play as much as getting a feel for the physicality of the game has so far. Besides from his shooting, his distribution skills have also been pretty lackluster thus far. The starting unit, however, totals 18.7 assists per game, and if Rose was shooting over 35.9 percent, that number would be a lot higher.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Chris Manning have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”