Kyrie Irving Risks A Losing Career Without LeBron James
Kyrie Irving Doesn't Want To Play With King James
Shortly after Kyrie Irving signed a five-year extension to stay with the Cavaliers, LeBron James published a missive that revealed he was returning home. During the previous few seasons, LeBron earned two titles with the Heat while Kyrie put up big numbers on a lottery-bound Cavs lineup.
The moment James decided to revisit Cleveland, Irving was forced to become part of LeBron’s team, knocking Kyrie off his perch as the alpha male of the squad.
Along with Kevin Love, the new big three for the Cavaliers had difficulty learning to mesh at the beginning, stumbling to a 5-7 start during the 2014-15 season. Eventually, the Cavs would settle into their status as heavy favorites in the east, dominating the conference for the next three years.
Kyrie Seeks His Own Kingdom
However, the only lengthy period of peace was the afterglow of their amazing 2016 NBA championship win. The rest of the time has been tumultuous for the Cavs big three. Numerous reports showcased LeBron’s displeasure, creating perpetual speculation surrounding Love and Irving’s role on the team. James wasn’t shy about voicing his displeasure on and off the court, including in-game yelling matches broadcast over social media.
In retrospect, Irving smirking and refusing to communicate with an infuriated LeBron during a 2016 overtime game against the Hawks speaks volumes. Despite achieving a championship a few months later, it appears that Kyrie already had enough of James at that point. Winning solves a lot of problems, which is likely why it took another year for Irving to ask for a trade out of The Cleve.
The Stats Don’t Look Good For Uncle Drew
There’s no doubt that Kyrie Irving’s one of the best players in the association, strictly based on his handles and ability to score the basketball.
He also proved his ability to hit big shots, sinking a clutch three that secured the Cavaliers historic comeback against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 finals. There’s absolutely no proof that Kyrie can lead a team – in fact, the stats don’t look good on his behalf.
Without LeBron in the lineup, Kyrie has a record of 4-13 over the past three years. Incredibly, this is worse than Kyrie’s .339 winning percentage with the Cavs pre-LeBron. When Irving has been out of the lineup, LeBron has lead the Cavs to a 25-11 record during the same three seasons. James also put in one of the greatest individual efforts for a losing cause in pro sports history, dragging the Cavs to a couple of wins away from a ring during the 2015 playoffs – without Kyrie or Kevin Love.
The biggest issue with Kyrie’s game is a lack of defense, which ranked 440th in the NBA for defensive real-plus minus. There’s no sugar-coating this deficiency, which will follow him to the next team he joins. The message is clear: LeBron doesn’t need Kyrie to win, and Kyrie hasn’t provided evidence that he can win without LeBron. There’s nothing wrong with Kyrie’s ambition to spread his wings and become the leader of another squad, but he faces an uphill climb to avoid becoming the guy who left the best player in the world because of blind ambition and avarice.
Cavaliers Still Favorites Without Irving
LeBron has clearly indicated that he’ll stay with the Cavaliers this year, fulfilling his contract. This alone assures that Cleveland will remain favorites, regardless of the haul they receive for trading Kyrie. If the Cavs manage to obtain good value while landing another big fish like Carmelo - both big ifs given the state of the front office - Cleveland might end up better off.
|2018 NBA Championship - Odds to Win|
No one knows where Kyrie will play next season, which means he might end up on a lottery bound squad, the same situation he faced when he started his NBA career.
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