Kyrie Irving has imprinted himself as one of the best players that we have in this league. To the level that former players like Kobe Bryant named him one of his favorite players to watch in today’s game. Irving’s ability to grab attention with his ball handling, craftiness around the rim, and ability to step up in the big moment has granted him that right to be included amongst the best. However, with the gift of everything that he’s capable of, there’s a curse that comes along with it.
Obviously, the gift that comes with Kyrie Irving is his scoring ability. He’s in the top 5 of most difficult players to guard in the NBA today. Defenders’ ankles are at risk when guarding him. The natural strategy of playing off of him is impossible because he can knock down the outside shot and if the defender gets too close, Kyrie is blowing right by him. You may think you can defend him at the rim but he has the ability to maneuver mid-air to avoid anything and everything that’s thrown at him. The six-year point guard is averaging 25.1 points per game and 5.7 assists per game while shooting .471 from the field and .391 from beyond the arc. You can’t ask for much better than that from you starting point guard.
The curse that comes with Kyrie Irving is his tendency to over-dribble at times. I know that we love to watch him operate and get shifty with the ball but sometimes it becomes a detriment to his team. There are moments when Irving becomes a ball stopper and he begins to dance. I’m unsure if he’s aware of it but at this very moment, his teammates become statues. They stand still and watch as if they’re us as fans in the stands and it disrupts the flow of the team. When the Cleveland Cavaliers are at their best the ball is moving, heads are turning and the defense is playing keep up with the basketball.
The Cavaliers are the league leaders in isolation possessions with 920 on the season. Irving is ranked 5th averaging 5.0 isolations per game and scoring on average 5.8 points on those possessions. Cleveland is amongst the bottom 5 teams when it comes to the number of passes they throw a game. That may sound like a silly stat but it coincides hand in hand with the surplus of isolations that they like to run. While isolations may work for Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers at times, they are at their best when the ball is moving. Even though they have bigger fish to fry meaning their defensive issues, Kyrie Irving needs to lay low on the over dribbling. His evolution as a player can be huge if he learns to move the ball a little more and dance a little less.