Welcome to the 72nd installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This weekend 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 & Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today the discussion revolves around Antony Bennett, Harrison Barnes, the NCAA Tournament and the possibility of Carmelo Anthony becoming a member of the Houston Rockets.
First Question: Anthony Bennett is out three weeks with a left knee strain. If this ends his rookie season, what will you remember as Bennett’s high moment and low moment?
Trevor Magnotti: My high point for Bennett was his 15 point, eight rebound explosion against the Pelicans. This was really the beginning of the resurrection for Bennett, and it was a ridiculous explosion of productivity that we hadn’t seen up until that point. He had a few solid efforts before this, but nothing like his near-double-double against Anthony Davis. My low point is that one night of good basketball is worthy of praise.
Chris Manning: For me, the high of Bennett’s season would be his recent performance against the San Antonio Spurs. I know he had five fouls in only 13 minutes and struggled on defense, but he flashed the offensive potential that made him the top overall pick. It wasn’t pretty by an stretch of the imagination, but he showed he’s developed some post moves and in actually developing as a prospect. The low point was this “screen” Bennett set against the Philadelphia 76ers.
This “screen” embodies everything that was disappointing about Bennett’s season. He’s out of breath, playing basketball lazily and looks as if he just doesn’t want to be there. For me, there wasn’t a lower moment for Bennett.
Second Question: Can we finally put the “Cleveland should have taken Harrison Barnes” to bed?
TM: Yes. Barnes does some fun things. He’s a solid defender and three-point shooter. Waiters does some fun things too. He’s the captain of the Cavs’ second unit, and can get to the rim very easily. Waiters does have his flaws, too. He isn’t efficient and his defense is on and off. Barnes has flaws as well, because he can’t create his own shot at all. They both are decent, they both have major flaws, and they both are in the better places for them to develop. Stop re-drafting the 2012 Draft.
CM: I really hope so. Dion Waiters didn’t play great against the Golden State Warriors, but he fiished with 18 points and looked like an NBA player. Barnes, on the other hand, struggled offensively – looking somewhat robotic with the ball in his hands – and failed to make any sort of impact on the offensive end. He’s a better defensively than Waiters right now and can play more positions, but that’s his only advantage. On the other hand, Waiters is developing nicely on offense, playing decent defense and might be the third best Cavalier right now. And based on what we’ve seen from Barnes, it’s hard to picture he’d be performing better as the Cavaliers small forward.
Third Question: Who are three prospects Cavaliers fans should watch once the NCAA Tournament begins?
TM: One prospect is James Young, the wing from Kentucky. He’s a guy who has kind of floated around the draft rankings due to inconsistent play this season, but he should be a decent three-point shooter and defensive player. I still need to get a gauge on him and what he can do within an offense, so he’s priority number one to watch if Kentucky makes the tournament. Second, I’ll take T.J. Warren of N.C. State. He’s a small forward who can attack the rim really well, and I want to see more of one of the draft’s rising stars. Third, I need to watch some more Duke, just to get an idea of where Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood are at before they decide whether to come out for the draft or not.
CM: First up, I’d recommend that Cavs fan watch Rodney Hood from Duke. He’s a versatile wing that can stroke it from deep and is decent at attacking the rim. There are legitimate concerns about his defensive, but I think he’d fit in nicely alongside Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters as the Cavaliers backcourt of the future. Assuming the Cavaliers pick in the 9-12 range, Hood is the guy I’d target first. Secondly, I’d recommend watching Jerami Grant from Syracuse. If the Cavaliers ended up at the end of the back of the lottery, there’s a chance they would have to take a small forward like Grant. He’s athletic, can score and could potentially be the best fit if players like Hood, Kentucky’s Willie-Cauley-Stein or Indiana’s Noah Vonleh are off the board. Just don’t blame me if Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone is frustrating to watch and makes it hard to gauge Grant’s defensive abilites.
Lastly, I’d watch Joel Embiid as much as possible. As tantalizing as selecting Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker would be, the Cavaliers would likely take Embiid if they somehow landed the top overall pick. He’s a potential game-changing center that would help mask some of Irving and Waiters’ defensive deficiencies. But he’s also worth monitoring because he’s had some back issues and it will be interesting to see how healthy he is and if his back injury is going to be a problem moving forward.
Fourth Question: Outside of the obvious prospects (Embiid, Parker, Wiggins, etc.), who is one player likely to be selected in the lottery you are looking forward to watching in the NCAA Tournament?
TM: I would probably go with Aaron Gordon. He’s gotten knocked this year for being extremely raw, but he’s got a wealth of athleticism and is a great defensive prospect. I have really enjoyed watching him throughout the year, and his Arizona team is really entertaining. Even though he’s not their primary scorer, Gordon plays a big part on the best Arizona team of the last decade, so I want to see him do well in the tournament so that A) Arizona does well, and B) Gordon can potentially vault back into a spot firmly among the top prospects in the draft.
CM: Ever since Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart shoved a Texas Tech fan, he’s been out of the headlines. But his draft stock has also dropped over that same time and I’ve seen some rank Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis ahead of him on their big boards. Thus, I want to watch every Oklahoma State game I can to gauge where Smart is at and form a better opinion of him as a player. Heading into June, Smart could be the first player taken outside of the elites or he could fall to the edge of the lottery. Considering this is likely to the be the last stretch of basketball Smart will play before entering the lottery, the NCAA tournament should tell us a lot about where he is at as a prospect.
Fifth Question: Rumors are circulating that the Rockets pursued Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony at the trade deadline and will do so again this summer. Do you like this move for Houston?
TM: I do like this for Houston, but more importantly, it’s a great move for Melo. Houston fits what he wants to offensively, and he and Harden could have dominant slash and kick potential. He also would play with Dwight, which would be really funny because if we had to cover a potential Finals contender with both Dwight and Melo on it, I’m not sure how the basketball blogging community would handle that. Finally, it’s a great move for Melo’s career longevity, because with Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon in town, a Melo with post moves is an inevitability in Houston. Anthony could reinvent himself as a stretch four and just have an arsenal of post moves to work with, and could extend his career for a few years.
CM: I’m torn on what I think of the idea of ‘Melo in Houston. While it certainly would upgrade their overall scoring power, they’d likely have to give up Jeremy Lin. Lin is defensive liability on a team with several defensive liabilities (looking at you, James Harden), but he’s an excellent pick and roll player on a team with a lot of players good in the pick and roll. ‘Melo isn’t exactly a stout defender either and, unless he’d take a salary cut, he would limit Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s ability to be creative with his roster. However, Anthony is the best version of himself when playing with other elite players than enable him to focus on scoring and that’s the role he would take on as a Rocket. Still, I think the most interesting part of this deal would be watching teams bid on Chandler Parsons and to see how much the Rockets could net for him. This assumes that they didn’t give him up in a sign and trade for Anthony.