Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving Is One-Dimensional, And That’s OK


Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is one-dimensional, and that’s perfectly OK

Remember Jamario Moon?

No? How about Baron Davis? Mo Williams?

Well, if you’re like me, I had never heard of Jamario Moon prior to writing this article, but he was a part of a trade that brought Uncle Drew to Cleveland. (If you want to read about the crazy history of trades the Cavs made to acquire the draft pick that would become Kyrie Irving, check this article out.

Kyrie came to the Land the year after LeBron made his infamous Decision that led to many burnings of the King’s jerseys (I will never understand why that’s a thing fans do after a superstar leaves, it makes no sense to me) and owner Dan Gilbert’s writing of the Letter.

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Now, whether or not you agree with LeBron’s Decision or Gilbert’s response, you have to hand it to the Cleveland Cavaliers for (essentially) turning Mo Williams into Kyrie Irving. While no one has a crystal ball that shows how draft picks turn out (the Wizards probably would have liked to have one had they known how Jan Vesely turned out; could you imagine Kawhi and John Wall?), the Clippers probably wish they had one.

While Chris Paul would come to the City of Angels the following season, it makes you wonder if the Clippers had kept the pick would have they traded for Chris Paul? My guess is probably not, which means that the Pelicans may not have A.D. today, which means that the Sixers might not have traded Jrue Holiday and/or Igoudala, which means that LeBron would not have had Kyrie to come home to, which means that LeBron might have stayed in Miami, which means…..


What-ifs, man.

While I could sit around and do what-ifs until I’m blue in the face, I’m here to talk about the guy pictured above and ask the question…

Is Kyrie One-Dimensional?

You cannot deny that Irving has the best handles in the league. (All-time? Now that’s a different story). While you can argue that the Chef gives him a run for his money, it’s also up for debate who the real Chef is; because, basketball.

Regardless, it’s a thing of beauty to watch Irving stop and go and stop and go again and contort his body into unnatural positions and finish through contact against guys that are almost a foot taller than him.

It’s also hard to deny that Irving is a great player. He’s averaging career highs in a few important categories this season:

  • PPG – 25.0 (previous high: 2012-13: 22.5)
  • FT% – 90.9 (previous high: 2015-16: 88.5)
  • eFG% – 53.2 (ties the 2014-15 season mark; but impressive considering he’s averaging nearly 3 more FGA per game – 19.7 to 16.5)

Irving is also shooting 38.8% from deep, which isn’t overly impressive, but when you take into account he’s shooting 6.2 3s a game; and plays on a team with shooters like Kyle Korver, Channing Frye, J.R. Swish (when healthy, just to name a few), it becomes more impressive.

Heck, even LeBron – who holds a 34.3 career % from deep has gotten in on the action – he’s shot 51.1% from 3 over the past 6 games.

Despite all this, Irving is averaging 5.9 APG, which is just a tick below his career-best average of 6.1 (2013-2014). While not elite numbers by any stretch of the word, and in comparison with the other elite PGs of the league, they are serviceable and fit the role that he asked to play on Cleveland with LeBron running the point often.

Irving is also averaging 1.28 steals this season, which, isn’t terrible.

What is startling is that Greg Monroe, super-sub for the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 22.2 MPG (compared to Kyrie’s 35.1), is averaging 1.27 SPG.

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  • While you could make the claim I’m comparing apples to oranges, I will give you that reader – kind of.

    Yes, Greg Monroe is a PF (or center, depending on who you’re talking to), and Kyrie Irving is a PG; but do you know what difference between Greg Monroe and Kyrie Irving’s steal-per-game average is? It’s .01.

    If you’re not a little disturbed by this stat, maybe consider that Greg Monroe has been compared to a sieve on defense, and he still averages a respectable 1.27 SPG while not receiving  a ton of playing time. Kyrie Irving, who has 13 extra minutes (and often more depending on the matchup) to make defensive stops, is averaging .01 more steals than Greg Monroe.


    So, is Kyrie one-dimensional?

    Well, the answer is not straightforward.

    His scoring ability often covers up his defensive inabilities (or diminished ability to defend, if you want to put it nicely); most notably his dagger 3 against the Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. While attention should be paid to his offensive abilities, not even the King can hide his flaws defensively. Maybe that’s why the Cavs signed Deron Williams(?)

    Before the verdict I have to say: I love Kyrie’s game. There are few players that when I watch the NBA that consistently make me:

    • a) Legitimately drop my mouth open
    • b) Make me say ‘wow’
    • c) Wish I was as gifted as they were at basketball
    • d) Make me wonder what I’m doing with my life when I find out they’re my age or just a few years older*

    * That last one happens a lot, actually. ANYWAYS!

    In case you didn’t pick up on it, Kyrie falls under that category for me. The dude balls. What concerns me is that this is Kyrie’s 6th season, and he hasn’t shown many signs, if any, for hopes that he’ll improve on the defensive end.

    Now, you can point to players like Steph Curry and James Harden, and how their coaches have hid their defensive inefficiencies by switching another teammate onto what should be their assignment. While a nice idea in principle, what happens when a 3-and-D player (J.R. Swish) gets hurt; and his replacement (Iman Shumpert) loses the 3 to his reputation? (Answer: LeBron averages 37.6 MPG).

    All kidding aside, Lue either a) hasn’t figured out a way to do so, or (the more likely answer) b) thinks that Kyrie’s scoring ability outweighs his porous defense and because he has LeBron all is dandelions and unicorns.

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    My verdict is this: Kyrie is, in fact, one-dimensional. I’m not saying he’s a bad player. He’s a great player…. he just only does it on one side of the ball.