It sure seems like Kyrie Irving is in the news a lot lately, doesn’t it?
Seriously, ever since it was reported last Friday that Irving has asked the Cleveland Cavaliers to trade him, it has consumed sports fans in northeast Ohio.
Most can’t believe a player of this ability would not want to play on the same team as LeBron James and have a chance at a championship ring each and every season.
Ask guys like Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye what it is like to play in the NBA for over 10 years and not win one, especially Jefferson, who went to The Finals his first two years in the league, and didn’t get back until 2015-16.
As a player, Irving is a four time All Star and an MVP of the game as well. On the other hand, he has made first, second, or third all NBA teams, just once, in 2014-15.
We would say he is among the top 20 players in the league, although he may be the 5th or 6th best point guard.
Irving has one extraordinary skill. He finishes around the basket better than any guard we can remember, with the possible exception of Allen Iverson.
Unfortunately, the other aspects of his game are not at that level, and that is why he hasn’t been a regular on the season ending all-NBA teams, and he is not considered one of the two or three best point guards in the sport.
His defense is indifferent. He does give a better effort in the playoffs, but in the regular season, it seems like opposing point guards can get in the paint anytime they want to.
The same quickness that suits Irving well when he drives to the basket can certainly be used to keep his man in front of him.
He is also not a willing passer. Granted, the Cavs aren’t a traditional team because much of the offense flows through LeBron James, but one of the reasons the wine and gold struggle when James is on the bench or sitting out a game, is the stop playing the ball movement offense they regularly use.
Irving is a ball stopper. He receives a pass and his first instinct is to use his remarkable ball handling skills to try to get the ball to the basket.
We understand James plays a lot of isolation ball too, and Irving has had success doing it with the Cavs. His shot to win the 2016 title was off isolation.
Still, we don’t think anyone would call him a great passer.
Does Irving have the ability to improve defensively and as a passer? Of course, we say it all the time, the man is uber talented, a gifted basketball player. It’s more about want to, and that’s why watching him play, it isn’t a shock to hear he wants to be traded so he can be the focal point of the team.
In trading Irving, you probably won’t get the scoring punch he provided, but you may get a better defender and a better passer in the deal. That may help you against Golden State in the long run.
There are many basketball pundits who felt the Cavs’ strategy of outscoring the Warriors was flawed.
The point is Kyrie Irving is a very good basketball player, but there are reasons he is not in the top ten players in the league. He has plenty of room in his game for improvement.