On Feb. 24, 2011, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a trade that would drastically change the future of the franchise. Sending Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cavaliers willing took on the bloated contract of Baron Davis. With Davis still being owed $28 million, and with two years remaining on his contract, the Clippers were desperate to unload him, and willingly attached a 2011 first round pick.
In reality, the Cavaliers had no interest in Davis as a player … the move was entirely based on the draft pick. At the time of the trade Cleveland was last in the league, and were quite happy about it. The goal of the season was to maximize their draft opportunities and walk away with a star player who could change the team’s fortunes.
Despite having just a 4.3 percent chance of winning, the pick Cleveland received from the Clippers won the right to the top pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and made Kyrie Irving a Cavalier. Now three years into his career, and no playoff appearances during that stretch, the Cavaliers are still trying to figure out what they have in Irving.
This summer marks Cleveland’s first opportunity to extend Kyrie Irving, and most expect him to demand a max contract from the team he is rumored to be trying to get away from. Irving has a similar usage rate to Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Paul George, DeMar DeRozan, Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Dwyane Wade. In total, of those players who have played at least 30 minutes per game, Irving has the 15th highest usage rate in the entire league.
And yet, none of his other stats jump off the table. Outside of his 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP, Irving’s 2013-14 season was a disappointment. This isn’t to say that the season was a failure, but he simply didn’t come near what was expected of him.
His true shooting percentage (53.3) mirrors that of a noted non-shooter like Andre Miller (53.4), and notorious gunner Monta Ellis (53.2). He also has a lower assist percentage than Brandon Jennings, who is known league-wide as a ball hog.
An argument could be made that Irving wasn’t even top 10 at his position this season. Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Goran Dragic, Mike Conley, Tony Parker, Ty Lawson, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, John Wall, and Kyle Lowry all could easily claim to have been better than Irving in 2013-14.
His shooting spots were all over the place.
He shot league average at the rim, and was particularly hit-or-miss from 3-point range; as he was deadly from the left corner to the top of the key, but terrible from the right corner and up. What should be particularly troubling for Cleveland fans is the 139 shots that Kyrie took from 3-point range to the right of the basket, at which he only completed 28 percent of his attempts. These two shooting zones represent 11 percent of Irving’s attempts this season.
These stats, combined with what can often be an incredible lack of defensive effort, combined for an incredibly disappointing season in Cleveland. Although his numbers look remarkably similar to those of Kemba Walker, so much more is expected of Irving. He has the potential and ability to change the entire direction of a franchise, but to date as been equal parts excitement and frustration for fans.
Couple all of this with what is increasing worries about his ability to remain healthy, and there has to be serious concerns in Cleveland. In reality, outside of the potential that he carries, Kyrie Irving has done nothing to justify a max contract … but in the NBA, potential can get you paid. It’s safe to say that the Cavaliers will willingly offer a max extension this summer, even if he isn’t yet worth it.