Welcome to the sixty-second 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 recent play of Dion Waiters, how the Cavs have managed Anthony Bennett, Earl Clark’s shooting, Derrick Rose’s unfortunate situation and surprise teams in the NBA.
First Question: Despite his inability to finish at the hole Wednesday night, Dion put on an impressive performance against the Heat after rumors of Waiters being on the trade block surfaced. What did you see differently with the way Dion was moving on the court?
Trevor Magnotti: I really wasn’t impressed with Dion’s performance Wednesday. Really, the only thing Dion was doing differently was attacking the lane more than he ISO’d when he got the ball, but his other issues were still there. Waiters didn’t pass well, and when he didn’t have the ball, you could easily find him sitting on the perimeter and never moving, just waiting for a pass. I hate this development in Dion’s offense, because he’s not a really good spot-up shooter, and if Waiters was going to embrace his strengths, I’d like to see him move more without the ball and be less easily guardable. Defensively, Waiters looked drunk. He didn’t have good positioning, gambled far too much for my taste, and it seemed obvious that he simply did not care about defense. So yeah, Waiters had a decent offensive game. However, his problems were still on display, and I’m not confident that this game means anything.
Chris Manning: I have to disagree with Trevor here. Although Waiters was not perfect–and Trevor is right about the passing issues–he was at least in the game and hitting shots. He hit his spots, appeared to be in the game and competed, which is something that no other Cavalier really did consistently. Sure, you can pick on the defensive issues and he could have moved around more, but at least he worked to take shots and hit at a higher clip than his season averages. Considering the drama coming into the game, I can’t hate on what I saw out of Dion. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a game where he made his shots. Here’s hoping he can build off of that.
Second Question: The Cavaliers continue to let Bennett toil away on the bench without allowing him playing time. What is your take on the way Cleveland has handled his minutes thus far?
TM: I think it’s stupid. Bennett should be given time to develop, and the Cavs aren’t giving him a chance at game experience. All the while Bennett is under a microscope for it, which can’t be helping. I’m O.K. with reducing the rookie’s minutes, especially because he hasn’t shown us anything positive so far. However, you can’t completely stop playing him. That’s only going to make things worse, especially when you choose at the same time to play a terrible undrafted rookie big minutes at shooting guard. It’s simply not a good look for the team, and Bennett’s continuing to suffer because of it.
CM: I don’t agree with how Bennett’s been handled at all. Should he playing 30 minutes plus a night? Hell no, but he should at least see the floor every night. He’s struggled, you can’t deny that, but he’s a raw rookie coming off of a surgery. Honestly, this is something we should have seen coming a mile away. And as Trevor notes, an undrafted shooting guard has been starting and getting minutes. On a team that has been playing horrible and looks nothing like a playoff team, Mike Brown and the organization have nothing to lose by playing their top pick. If they don’t pay for it this year, they’ll pay for down the road when they have to make a decision on his future without really having watched him play.
Third Question: It looks like Clark is starting to find a rhythm with his shot. Have you seen improvements in his offensive game, and if/if not so, why do you think Clark is having/not having success?
TM: Earl Clark has been streaky with his shooting all season, and that’s been true since last season with the Lakers. He’ll have a few weeks where he does nothing, then a week where he finds his shot and goes off. I haven’t really noticed anything that’s led to the increase in production from him. He’s moving a little bit better off the ball, which is nice, but he’s taking about the same amount of shots as he did early in the season. Only difference is that he’s making them now. I’m not sure what’s caused it, but I sincerely hope it continues, because that’s exactly what he was brought in to do.
CM: I agree with Trevor here. Clark is still largely hanging out on the wing and moving very little. Thus far, if his jumper hits, he’s on, but if it doesn’t, he looks bad. Ideally, Clark isn’t part of the offense unless it’s a.) On a fast break, b.) On a put back or c.) An end of a shot clock situation. He still is taking more shots in the flow of the offense when the ball is swung his way and his man is sagging off him in help defense. If he can make those shots, he should take them, but if not, he needs to keep the ball moving. If he can blend shot making and smart shot selection, I’ll be happy to say I see real improvement.
Fourth Question: D-Rose’s most recent injury will keep him out the rest of the season. What does the future hold for the Chicago Bulls superstar?
TM: At this point, Rose needs to worry about simply just making sure his knees are healthy before he ever steps on the floor again. The good news is that a meniscal tear isn’t something that will make him miss more than the rest of this season, and it was only a torn meniscus. Meniscal tears often accompany other injuries, such as an MCL tear or ACL tear, and it’s good that this is the only thing he has to worry about. Also, we just saw Russell Westbrook come back pretty well from a meniscal tear, so we know it can be done. However, with these two consecutive injuries for Rose, he needs to begin thinking long-term over coming back and playing. We want Rose to come back, of course, but we also want to see him be able to walk and not have to get a knee replacement at age 50. I think he comes back again, and I think he’ll be able to still be a productive NBA player. However, I think his days as a superstar are over.
CM: I hope Rose a.) Avoids Twitter for the next year and b.) Focuses on his rehab. By having the surgery that will repair his meniscus, Rose is doing the right thing for himself in the long run. Theoretically, by not rushing his return, he will now lower the chance of another injury and still have the explosiveness that makes him so great. If he has no setbacks, he himself should be able to come back the same player, but his team is another story. Without him at the helm, the Bulls are good, but not contenders. And facing the repeater tax, they are facing a future where they have to pick and choose what assets to keep for the long term and what ones to gut from their roster (which was built to contend for and win titles around Rose right now). Ultimately, Rose’s ultimate end will be determined just as much by his health as his teammates.
Fifth Question: Besides the Portland Trail Blazers, which team has surprised you with their hot start to the season? Are there even any other “surprise” teams in the League?
TM: I’ve been very impressed with Dallas so far this season. I didn’t think the Mavericks were going to be that good this season, mainly because I thought they wouldn’t stay healthy, Dirk was too old, and #Montaball. However, Monta Ellis has been awesome so far, averaging 22/3/6 per game, and Dirk’s been a top 5 power forward this season. In addition, Dejuan Blair has been a stud off the bench for them, providing exactly what they got from Elton Brand last year. They’ve been the fifth most efficient offense this year, and they’ve forced the third-most turnovers in the league this season, which makes up for their sometimes-poor on-the-ball D. The Mavericks will be getting a good test here soon (five of their next seven are on the road), but they’ve been the team that’s exceeded my expectations the most this season.
CM: Trevor stole my answer, so I’ll go with the inverse here: I’ve been shocked at how horrible both the Nets and Knicks have been. They are both near the bottom of the league record wise and seem to have no answers to teams that don’t let them play at their pace. In fact, both teams are in the bottom third in offensive efficiency. And both teams have troubles extending to the bench, as Mike Woodson hasn’t been as effective as last year and Jason Kidd may be a little bit over his head in his first season as head coach. I think at least one of these teams will ultimately figure it out and make the playoffs, but I can’t say I saw this coming one bit.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Dan Pilar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”