I hope that everyone had a merry Christmas/Hannukah/Christmakkuh/Kwanzaa/Festivus/whatever holiday everyone celebrates at the end of the year. As my gift to you, I give you a crummy, hastily written, shoddily researched, and poorly conceived mailbag! Don't you all just love the work I put in here? (Editor's note: It's a little too early for you to start mailing in work like Simmons, bro.)
In that vein, let's get started with one of the more ridiculous questions I've received:
Can you outdrink Dion Waiters?
I've spent way too long thinking about this question. Okay so in reality I probably just had a lot of free time on my hands traveling from one family gathering to the next, then trying to find little modicums of time where I could hide from my family's questions about living in Los Angeles and the entertainment industry. But either way, this one has been on my mind.
So without further ado, let's go to the tale of the tape!
|220 lbs||Weight||175 lbs|
|SG on the Cleveland Cavaliers||Claim to Fame||Umm...errr....uhhh...|
|From the streets of Philly, came to camp overweight rookie season.||Known Drinking Prowess||Known to consume Jaegerbombs at Gaswerks in Columbus|
|Most intense Cavalier, never quits on his team||Intangibles||Can text perfectly while intoxicated.|
I'm going with Dion. He's from South Philly, knows Meek Mill, and has 45 pounds on me. I don't think it'd be a blowout, but it would be a pretty clear win for Waiters.
Speaking of drinking...
Who would help the Cavaliers most: emo Tobey Maguire from Spiderman 3, or Drunk Uncle from SNL?
Both of these would be more harmful to the team than Andrew Bynum has been so far (zing!). Let's roll with a few assumptions here:
-Given that Greg said emo Tobey Maguire from SM3, I'm going to assume he doesn't actually have the Spiderman powers. Plus, I assume that even if he did, getting webbing on the ball is probably a foul.
-Neither of them actually have to play. He says nothing about playing!
-Both in their peak, meaning Drunk Uncle is always extremely drunk and Maguire is about to break out into dance at the most random of times.
Maguire would probably become friends with emo Kyrie Irving from last season and destroy his attitude. However, Drunk Uncle would probably take the team out after the game and make them hungover for back-to-backs. I think I'd rather have them hungover given that basketball games are normally played the next night. So Drunk Uncle is my pick, and I have to hope that Drunker Uncle doesn't randomly show up and get everyone annihilated drunk.
What's the least talked about issue that the Cavaliers have?
Hmm. There are a lot of them. I'd say that it's probably pick-and-roll defense. It gets talked about, but not nearly enough. All three of the guards the Cavs play regularly -- Irving, Jarrett Jack, and Dion Waiters -- struggle to fight through screens due to either laziness (Jack) or just inexperience (Irving and Waiters). That's a major problem, because it's an essential part of Mike Brown's defensive scheme where he likes to play pick-and-rolls straight up. When those guys get beat, it's incumbent upon the rest of the defense to then rotate, which leads to spot-up opportunities.
Also, the bigs aren't particularly good at cutting off ball handlers. Bynum is obviously a dumpster fire in that regard and it's a miracle sent straight down from the heavens/Christ/Buddha/Moses/whatever god you believe in any time that he does. But even Anderson Varejao is slowing down due to age and wear/tear on his knees. Tristan Thompson is still raw and doesn't particularly have great instincts in space yet. So pretty much the Cavs have every ingredient of a substandard pick-and-roll defense. Given that Mike Brown's teams are known for stopping teams in the pick-and-roll it's a large problem. The personnel on the roster is not even close to being what Brown needs to run his defense effectively. That's the biggest reason in my opinion that they're 20th so far in defensive efficiency.
How long until Matthew Dellavedova takes all of Alonzo Gee's minutes?
-Josh Van Sickle
I'm not really sure that they're direct substitutes of each other, first and foremost. So I don't think he'll ever take all of his minutes. But it's certainly worth mentioning that Gee didn't play last night and Dellavedova took most of the minutes. So you may be getting your wish. But really, I think if Bennett can actually play he should slide in at the 4, which would create more time at the 3 for Earl Clark. He, along with three guard lineups, could replace Gee's spot in the lineup.
I'd envision that this is Gee's last season with the Cavaliers. Given that he has an non-guaranteed $3 million salary for next season, I assume the Cavs will release him and roll with someone new. Given that he was an undrafted free agent signing out of the D-League, the Cavs have gotten an awful lot of mileage from Gee and I really commend him and the front office for that. But his time has come with the Cavs.
Do you think that Dellavedova is capable of running the backup point guard full-time now? Is he ready?
The Cavs haven't really used him at all in that manner yet, so my answer is going to be no. I wish they'd play him on ball a little more just to see what they have with him in that regard, though. His vision is off-the-charts, but he might get eaten alive by athletic, quick point guards. It's worth checking out, but he didn't look good doing it in summer league full-time. It's hard to say what I should take away from that, but it exists. Either way though, I'm happy with what the Cavs have gotten from Dellavedova so far, even if it continues to be in an off-ball variety.
Who would win: the all-Texas team or the all-Duke team?
This is my favorite basketball-related question I think I've ever gotten in a mailbag. Let's break down the lineups before we get into this one.
-Texas would have Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tristan Thompson, P.J. Tucker, Jordan Hamilton, Avery Bradley, D.J. Augustin, Royal Ivey, Cory Joseph, Daniel Gibson, Damion James, and Dexter Pittman.
-Duke would have Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, Elton Brand, J.J. Redick, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts, Miles and Mason Plumlee, Kyle Singler as their 12 I'd say. Sorry Nolan Smith, Lance Thomas, Austin Rivers, Brian Zoubek, Lee Melchionni, William Avery, Trajan Langdon, Chris Carrawell, etc.
So you're looking at starting lineups of Augustin-Bradley-Durant-Thompson-Aldridge vs. Irving-Redick-Deng-Boozer-Plumlee (I can't believe I'm starting Miles Plumlee in this freaking game).
What this game would come down to is if the Texas guards could consistently make entry passes into the post. I wouldn't trust Augustin or Bradley running pick-and-pops with Aldridge, so he'd probably have to play more of a post game in this one to be effective. The pieces seem to fit better on Duke, but ultimately Durant would Durant and Texas probably wins. Which raises the next question: who could beat Texas?
I'd wager UCLA is probably the best bet. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Jrue Holiday, Arron Afflalo, Darren Collison, Trevor Ariza, Matt Barnes, Jordan Farmar, Luc Richard Mbah-a-Moute, Ryan Hollins. That would be an interesting matchup of UCLA having to go super small like Westbrook-Holiday-Afflalo-Barnes-Love to have a shot. Florida would also have the requisite size inside to matchup with Al Horford, Joakim Noah, David Lee, Corey Brewer, Chandler Parsons, Bradley Beal, etc. That team is probably more talented but it's an even bigger mismatch of talent. Kentucky would be interesting too with Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe leading the charge. Lest we forget Chris Paul and Tim Duncan out of Wake Forest. So I'd probably seed a University NBA Tournament right now like this (this is in no way scientific and you should argue with this):
2. Kentucky (they'll be the best soon once Davis hits his peak)
6. Wake Forest (although they're ready to fall off of a cliff when Duncan retires)
9. North Carolina
12. Ohio State (because I'm a homer and because Derrick Rose is hurt)
What is your take on the Big Four Dramas of television?
-Non Dairy Kreemer
For those less television inclined, the Big Four Dramas of modern television are The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad (in the order they started). All four of these shows are fantastic, and for someone looking to get into television more, any of these four would be the best place to start.
Here's what it comes down to for me. I'm more of a character person than a story person. I'd rather watch a flawed character attempt to navigate life than just watch a plot-driven story based in action. I'll try to keep it in layman's terms considering this is a basketball blog and keep the spoilers to a minimum.
For me, the best of the bunch is The Sopranos because there will never be another Tony Soprano. Trust me, shows have tried. Actually, both Mad Men's Don Draper and Breaking Bad's Walter White owe a great deal to the writing staff of The Sopranos, who pushed the limits of what could be considered a likable, tragic lead character. Soprano was both exciting to watch, and mortally imperfect. He tried to embrace his brain being "broken" (in his world at least) by going to therapy, but was unable to make it work. His character motivations were always completely believable, and his thought process always hung out in the open for us to see. He was the ultimate tragic hero.
The two AMC dramas are in second and third for me, pretty much in a virtual deadlock. I'd probably place Breaking Bad slightly ahead right now given that we know the ending, but Mad Men could easily make up the ground by the end of its series (or it could fall behind The Wire given how last season was). Breaking Bad is certainly the more exciting and thrilling of the pair, but there was always something slightly off about the writing for me. It always seemed a bit to deus-ex-machina for me with the way that Walter gets in and out of situations. If I wanted to sit around and pick plot holes into Breaking Bad, I certainly could (and that's something Vince Gilligan would say as well). But that's not fun. If you simply take Breaking Bad for what it is -- a man's slow sojourn into evil -- it's a great ride. I'll leave it there given that it's way too difficult to discuss that show without spoilers.
Mad Men is much more character-driven in nature and relies further on symbolism. I always have discouragingly and detestably identified with Don Draper as a person with endless ambition. He stays objective to a fault, even if it hurts his life. Don is by no means a good person because what he wants changes so constantly. I could probably write pages upon his personality faults, but I'll move on. Then to top that off you have the world changing all around the characters in the 1960s, what with the female revolution, Kennedy's assassination, and the Vietnam war -- not to mention the African-American movement, although this is lightly touched upon. Everything about this show is written pristinely, and I'm excited for the first half of the next season coming up most likely in March.
That The Wire comes in fourth for me here doesn't make it anything less than a masterpiece. I just don't think it's nearly as deep as the other series. It's a thrilling, exciting look at the drug trade, but I don't think there's a whole lot going on underneath the actual events of the plot. Also, I'm pretty sure the second season of The Wire is the worst season out of all of the series discussed here. They go totally away from the drug trade to look at illegal dock trading. For a plot-driven show, that was a fairly massive misstep because that world wasn't intriguing at all. The show still worked because David Simon is brilliant and Amy Ryan was fantastic, but overall that's a really uneven season. It came back with a bang in season three by establishing Stringer -- for my money, the best character on the show -- as one of the main characters. Stringer is another example of a man ambitious to a fault, but he was more than that. He was loyal to a fault. Loyal to his friends, to his environment, to his hustle. He and Omar are the only two characters who really have more going on than what they are on the streets in my view.
The show's realism is to its credit, but I'm someone that's always been able to suspend realism when it comes to television. It's why I can watch the show Scandal and not vomit profusely. If you had these shows in the reverse order of what I do, well, I couldn't blame you. That's just one man's opinion. But for now, I say The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Wire in that order.
Keep sending in questions and I'll keep answering them. Either send them to mailbagFTS@gmail.com or to my twitter handle @Sam_Vecenie. These are always super fun, and a good way to get away from the stupidity of Cavalier basketball and Cavaliers' twitter -- which are both best described as tire fires right now.