ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported on First Take this morning that Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland. Would that be such a bad thing for the Cleveland Cavaliers?
The “Big Three” of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love has not worked out according to plan for the Cleveland Cavaliers. At the trade deadline there were rumors running rampant speculating Love’s future with the team. I couldn’t help but wonder, was general manager David Griffin shopping the wrong member of the trio?
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Griffin should have been gauging interest around the league for Irving, not Love. Irving is miserable on defense and his brand of “hero ball” consistently disrupts the team’s flow on offense. Would a true point guard be a better fit for the Cavaliers? Irving doesn’t even rank among the top 50 point guards in assist ratio (18.8, the percentage of a player’s possessions ending in an assist). The offense seems stagnant at times, and dribbling the shot clock away doesn’t help the cause.
Consider this, in 100 minutes this season when just Love and Irving are on the floor the team has a net efficiency of -14.9 (would rank last in the league). Add LeBron and the efficiency increases to +10, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Who handles the ball more? Love or Irving? Exactly, it’s the point guard. The brunt of the blame should be located squarely on Irving’s shoulders.
To further prove Irving’s negative impact on the court, look no further than his value added. Value added is the number of points added to a team’s season total above what a replacement level player would produce, according to ESPN.com. Irving ranks 17th in value added among point guards (141.9), behind the likes of Ricky Rubio, Tony Parker, Mike Conley and Reggie Jackson. His estimated wins added is also 17th at 4.7. Wins added estimates the amount of wins added to a team’s total based on value added. Love’s wins added is significantly higher at 7.2. In other words, Irving isn’t the difference maker he’s portrayed to be.
There was noise last season of Irving’s frustration with the organization. James also called him out after a game he failed to record even a single assist. He’s undeniably talented, and possibly the best ball handler in the league, but I’m starting to think he can’t handle the criticism and pressure facing himself and the team. He either can’t handle it all, or he isn’t as good as we are all giving him credit for.
About a week ago all was well for the Cleveland Cavaliers coming off of a huge road victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I was drinking the Kool-Aid, I’ll admit it. The past week has seen a complete breakdown against the Toronto Raptors and a pathetic showing against the Washington Wizards, without LeBron James (rest). Combine the team’s own struggles with the epic play of Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, panic is beginning to set in.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are 3-12 the past two season when James doesn’t play. That’s extremely concerning, Love and Irving aren’t so-so role guys. They are max players not living up to their potential. It all starts with the man that has the ball in his hands, Kyrie Irving. He needs to be a playmaker for somebody other than himself, that’s the job of a point guard.
So, Kyrie you want out of Cleveland? How about you improve your own game for the better of the team before your wish gets granted.