This Trade Will Lead Cleveland to the Championship Again!
Cleveland Cavaliers just pulled off a trade major coup. They traded Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and a first round draft pick in 2018. The main player that they picked up is obviously Isaiah Thomas.
Statistically over his career, Irving is a better producer than Thomas, but not by much. To see their value, lets look at the last two years. The stats are derived from the NBA Career Stats. These are not presented in the normal way stats are given. When you consider the value per minute as deduced from the normal stats, a completely different picture is drawn.
Notice that Irving barely leads in the rebounds and steals per minute. These are significant in only that Cleveland was dead last in steals last year and 12th in rebounds. Irving did not make a significant difference in those areas.
When looking at Thomas, he has a clear lead in assists per minute played and an overwhelming number of points per minute. Thomas is just what Cleveland needed to get those extra points per game that are necessary to beat teams like the Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers need to average just 6 points more to take the number 1 spot.
Those are simple tangibles to compare. In Irving’s behalf, he did have a solid core of veterans on the team. Having said that, why aren’t his assist numbers up? When you have quality shooters and you are the point guard, you should have great assist stats. Why does LeBron James lead the team in assists? Obviously, James is the go to guy in Cleveland. When he gets the ball, he gets double teamed. He passes the ball to the open man who shouts and should make it.
Since James is the go to guy, the next question and it is a serious question enters the discussion. Why are Irving’s points per minute so much lower than Thomas? Simple answer is that Irving wasn’t moving to the open spot or towards the ball enough. If he had been, he would have had more uncontested shots. His point total would be higher.
Thomas, on the other hand, was the go to guy. It would be expected that he would earn more points per minute of play. When you add in his assists compared to Irving, Isaiah Thomas brings out the best in others.
Last year the Cleveland Cavaliers were flat. There was no energy in their play. Sure they won, but that was because they have outstanding skilled players. Neither James or Kevin Love are firebrands. They play great, but they don’t really fire up the rest of the team into a basketball frenzy. Their forte is in their personal skills, but that doesn’t always motivate the best out of their teammates. They are not cheerleaders and neither was Irving.
James being the King of Basketball was depressed last year. He lost some of his mojo. There was no one that brought the best out of him. The team looked more like gloom and doom than the previous year when they won the championship. The emotion was gone. That energy and emotion is setup by the point guard. Irving did not inspire the others. He was more concerned about his own legacy than the team.
Irving wanted to go someplace that he could be number one. He was personally tired of being number two. Not to say that every player dreams of the day that they would lead the team to greatness, but most don’t say that out loud. It is also not an intentional dish on Irving. Personally, Irving appears to be a good guy driven by personal goals.
Thomas is a Fireball
In contrast, Isaiah Thomas is a fireball on the court.. He is also a cheerleader for all the players. When in Boston, he was the heart and sole of the team. Boston messed up! They got rid of a player that brought the best out in others. I used to watch him live when he played in Sacramento. The whole team would be energized and play a more upbeat game. Sacramento didn’t know how to utilize Thomas so they traded him. Now Boston has done the same thing. Look for Boston to drop some this year unless they pick up an emotional, energetic player somewhere.
In Cleveland, Isaiah Thomas should reintroduce fun into the game for the superstars. Last year the superstars were lethargic. Look for the reemergence of both James’ and Love’s passion for the game.
When you add in Jae Crowder’s defensive play and a 6’11” rookie Ante Zizic, you have got an eastern dynasty that will continue into the future. This is the only team that can beat the Golden State Warriors.