Welcome to the 72nd installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This weekend 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 & Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today the discussion revolves around Anthony Bennett, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, some comments from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and hypothetical teams built to tank.
First Question: True or False: Anthony Bennett was more good than bad against the Spurs on Tuesday.
Trevor Magnotti: Absolutely true. Bennett had his rough patches Tuesday, for sure, particularly when tasked with guarding his body double, Boris Diaw. However, once the fourth quarter rolled around, Bennett flashed some excellent offensive play against Aron Baynes and Jeff Ayres. He ran some fun pick-n-pop play with Matthew Dellavedova, finished in transition, and overall had 14 points on 5-8 shooting in limited action. I was impressed with Bennett, and continue to believe he’s going to live up to his offensive potential here in a couple years.
Zak Kolesar: Absolutely false. The same problems are persisting for Bennett. Five fouls in nine minutes? That is a HUGE problem and is holding him back from showing us his true potential. Yes, he did make a few nice baskets down the stretch, but this was done in crunch time when the game was far out of reach. Until Bennett performs at the level he did against players like Baynes and Ayres versus players who are higher up in the NBA food chain, then I’m not going to be impressed with him stacking up scrub points/minutes. He’d be better off doing what he did against the Spurs on Tuesday in the D-League.
Second Question: Much has been made of the possibility of LeBron James attending Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement ceremony. First, should James even attend and secondly, has this cast a negative light onto a special night for both the franchise and Ilgauskas?
TM: I flat-out don’t care. If James wants to attend the jersey retirement of a player he spent eight years playing with, as is customary for these types of deals (No one gave two thoughts to several former teammates of Allen Iverson being present when the Answer’s jersey retirement came last week), that’s fine with me. If the idea here is that LeBron will “steal the show” from Z, that’s ludicrous. LeBron has become one of the more PR-savvy players in the league since the Decision, and I don’t think he would intentionally interrupt a ceremony honoring a friend. This isn’t the damn WWE. Honestly, if LeBron being there interrupts the ceremony in any way, it’s going to be the fans booing LeBron like the Warriors fans did to Joe Lacob during Chris Mullin’s retirement ceremony, an act that was equally ridiculous and dumb as booing LeBron would be. Honestly, I think the majority of people worrying about this are still bitter LeBron left Cleveland, and you know what I say to that? IT’S BEEN FOUR YEARS. GET OVER IT. And if I see any of the people on Twitter who are worried about LeBron’s presence lobbying for him to come back this offseason, this is your warning that I’m trolling the hell out of y’all on Twitter.
ZK: Whenever something happens regarding LeBron, you’re going to hear about it. LeBron has something to say about the sleeve jerseys, darn right you’re going to hear about it the next day. The same goes for Z’s retirement. The two were teammates for some time and they consistently talk, so I see no problem with LeBron attending the ceremony. LBJ isn’t trying to steal the shine away from Z; he’s just trying to support a long-time friend and a role model that helped make his transition into the NBA from high school easier. So yes, being that they were teammates for so long and are still on talking terms (and even played in Miami together), LeBron should attend to honor Z. The night is about Z and will be about Z in the end. Yes, there will be trolls, as Trevor mentioned, making a big deal if LeBron does in fact attend, but if you’re a true fan and want to show Z your respect, then I see no negative lights being casted on this very special night for a very special man.
Third Question: Where does Zydrunas Ilgauskas rank amongst the all-time great Cleveland Cavaliers?
TM: If I’m power-ranking the top 10 all-time Cavs, this is my list: 1. LeBron 2. Mark Price 3. Campy Russell 4. Brad Daugherty 5. Terrell Brandon 6. Lenny Wilkens 7. Ilgauskas 8. Bingo Smith 9. World Free 10. Ricky Davis (kidding). So I think Z is in the second tier of Cavs’ greats, not on the level of your LeBron/Price/Russell/Daugherty quartet, who all led the team in multiple playoff runs, but in the second group of guys who either played with the team forever (Z/Smith), were good-but-not-quite-great (Brandon), or were really impactful players for a short time (Wilkens positively, Free neutrally, and Davis negatively). That seems like a fair spot for him.
ZK: Z is definitely deserving of this honor, but I wouldn’t group him within the top-5 Cavaliers of all-time. He could have been if it weren’t for the unfortunate injuries that he experienced during the early portion of his career, but for him to make such a prolific impact on the franchise while dealing with health issues proves that Z is a warrior and that he belongs to have his name next to Brad Daugherty in the rafters of Quicken Loans Arena.
Fourth Question: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently said that he would like to see the D-League replace the NCAA and that the NCAA has “no reason to exist”. Is there something to what Cuban is saying?
TM: The NCAA is just an elaborate money-laundering scheme, but I think there is some use to it. The D-League works like the other major minor leagues, in that it’s a nice place for players of similar talent to develop but the life can be tough, you’re playing in front of less-than-full houses, and right now the money isn’t as good as playing in say, France, Spain, or Turkey. Meanwhile, the NCAA does allow for a more structured and secure environment for the players to adjust before heading to the pros. It gives these kids the national exposure that the minor leagues wouldn’t, which is why these names are so familiar to us, which makes the draft and watching young guys develop more exciting. It also allows these players to play in front of a huge stage prior to heading to the league, so the move from high school gyms to packed NBA houses isn’t that big of a switch. These last two points are my major gripes with the NHL and MLB. As a casual fan of both, I have no idea who the vast majority of these young kids are that cycle through the minors and onto pro teams. Meanwhile, the casual fan at least knows who the top prospects are from College basketball and football because they’ve probably watched them at some point in a nationally televised game, unless it’s the rarity of a Damian Lillard or Joe Flacco popping up from a mid-major with no exposure. Does the D-League have value over the NCAA? Certainly. However, I think the name recognition and exposure of these players to bright lights at a different level are very useful for the NBA, and I’m not sure how the D-League will get to this point.
ZK: The NCAA builds character, and I think it is very beneficial for players coming out of high school to spend at least two years at the collegiate ranks. College basketball coaches are the best mentors of any coaches, and their teachings go a long way. Without the NCAA and with just a D-League, we probably wouldn’t have players like Damian Lillard breaking out onto the scene. Playing mid-major ball really helped raise his draft stock, but still many passed on Lillard. I think if there were to be a D-League replacement of the NCAA, talents like Lillard would be discovered much less often. Some players need one year to develop, while others need four. College builds character and teaches discipline. The D-League wouldn’t be able to provide the same experience.
Fifth Question: SI.com’s Ben Golliver recently made his own All-Tank team. If you were tasked with creating such a monstrosity, who would compose your starting five?
TM: While I have my negative “HAVE YOU WATCHED BENNETT PLAY SINCE JANUARY 1ST???” visceral reaction to his inclusion on this list, that’s still a pretty solid list. However, we can do better. Golliver forgot one key tenant of the tanking life, and that’s taking like nine of your twelve players on roster and putting them all at the wrong position. Victor Oladipo? You’re gonna be a point guard, son. Hollis Thompson? Enjoy your power forward minutes! Hence, here’s how we best that tanking group:
Point Guard: Nick Young – Swaggy Point play is essential to us attempting to drop games at a high rate. Calling Young shoot-first as a point guard isn’t even fully correct.
Shooting guard: Will Barton – Another key component of the tanking scheme is to have at least one player that’s trying his balls off, occasionally makes big plays, and may playing wayyyyy too many minutes for his talent level. For the Sixers, it’s Tony Wroten; the Lakers have Kendall Marshall; and my Panzer on steroids has Trill Barton, dunking on people’s faces and playing 36 minutes a game.
Small Forward: Michael Beasley – Obvious inclusion is obvious. One of the patron saints of unintentional tanking along with Chris Kaman.
Power Forward: Otto Porter – Out of position rookie in way over his head? Check.
Center: Dwayne Dedmon – And our final key component, a player who shouldn’t even be sniffing an NBA roster logging starter’s minutes.
BEAT THAT, GOLLIVER.
ZK: I’m going to be a little obscure with this:
PG: J.R. Smith — because why not? If he carries up the ball on every single offensive possession, no one else will get a touch, meaning that J.R. will probably chuck u 30-plus shots a game and will shoot around 25 percent from the field.
SG: O.J. Mayo — another high-volume shooter who is one of the streakiest players in the NBA. He does show flashes of brilliance, but a backcourt consisting of Smith and Mayo would be disastrous and the most ineffective duo in the NBA by far.
SF: Alonzo Gee — our very own. Just put him in the corners and have Smith or Mayo kick the ball out to him every now and then and watch him go 0 of 4 every night from beyond the arc.
PF: Derrick Williams — his career has NOT shaped out like most have thought it would. He’s currently struggling in Sacramento and isn’t making the most out of his 25-plus minutes per game. Thank goodness we passed on him, right?
C: Ryan Hollins — because LOL.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Trevor Magnotti and Chris Manning have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”