Fear the Sword has become my favorite Cleveland Cavalier’s based website. They also are great guys to follow and interact with on Twitter so I encourage following all of them. They put out an article yesterday comparing Kyrie Irving to Derrick Rose, the former NBA MVP. As the Cavs begin to prep for the start of the 2013-2014 season the team has their highest expectations since Lebron James left for Miami. Many of these expectations are built around the Cavs centerpiece, Irving, and how he will play with the interesting and fun team that has been assembled around him. Comparing Irving to Rose is another way to focus on Irving’s development and ability to carry the team.
When I first got the idea for this I had a feeling that the numbers might be close. I did not, however, think that Kyrie Irving’s advanced stats would be superior to Rose’s in almost every category.
- I am not a numbers guy but I expected their to be some significant differences in the players first 2 years in the league, as compared in a chart prior to this comment. In hindsight the supporting casts around both players can be analyzed but its easy to see there was a reason each team was drafting #1 when they got their point guards.
Clearly, there are a few areas that stand out. We know that Kyrie needs to take better care of the ball and that shows up in his TOV%, which is 1.3% higher than Rose’s. Derrick Rose also had an edge in defensive win shares and win shares in general (a lot of that has to do with the teams that they are on and the number of games played).
- Irving’s turnover rate is concerning as a point guard but should improve as the dynamics of the players around him improves. Rose’s defensive edge can be connected to the team and coach he was playing for. With the return of Mike Brown its highly likely that Irving’s defense should improve, as well as the defense around him.
Rose had not missed the same amount of games as Irving has early in his career, but he still had a few nagging injuries that came as a result of crashing into the floor after exposing his body while attempting to avoid contact. In order to combat this he started initiating contact more and accepting the trip to the free throw line. Making this switch, his free throw attempts per game increased from 4.2 to 6.6. Some of that increase is due to more “superstar calls,” which Irving will surely see increase as well. But the primary reason that Rose got to the line so much more in his MVP season was that he stopped trying to avoid contact. His efficiency got a major boost when he started trading some crazy difficult layup attempts for trips to the charity stripe.
- We have all been amazed by the layups Kyrie is able to pull off but for him to do so does come at a cost. It is interesting to look at how Rose’s change here impacted his free throw attempts. Kyrie does not present as physically gifted as Rose but if he is able to see the same uptick in FTs while minimizing his physical harm all the better. “Superstar calls” will come, most likely this year.
Secondly, the improved supporting cast and coaching resulted in Rose increasing his assists per game from 6.0 to 7.7. A similar increase in Irving’s assist numbers (currently at 5.9 APG) seems within reason given that his assist percentage was 2% higher than Rose’s in his second season. For this to come to fruition it will take some substantial growth from Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. The additions of Anthony Bennett, Jarrett Jack, and Andrew Bynum (maybe?) will help with that as well. While we don’t know exactly what the Cavaliers offense will look like this season under the watch of Igor Kokoskov and the other experienced assistant coaches on the staff, it will likely consist of fewer Irving isolations and more pick and rolls. That should boost Kyrie’s assist numbers.
- I encourage the reading of the entire article but it is this full paragraph that has me most excited for the Cavaliers. The addition of the players noted, as well as improvement from the young players on the roster all are reasonable expectations. Adding that much young veteran talent with the talent already on the team makes #1 overall pick Anthony Bennett almost an after thought. He, along with the Cavs other first round pick Sergey Karasev, can now learn in spots and slowly develop, much like the talented San Antonio Spurs of the past have done.
If Irving is able to match Rose’s career arc the Cavs will be in a great position following the end of this season. They will be in the playoffs, maybe even the second round. They will have cap space. They will have one of the best point guards in the league. They will have talent at multiple positions on the court. They will have loads of draft picks, theirs and others, to continue to develop the roster. All and all its exciting to know the season is coming soon.