Jul. 13, 2018
Why Kyrie Irving should join the Spurs
Kyrie Irving is a great basketball player. I know, mind blown.
But he is not great enough to have a team built around him and be a serious title contender. He is just not that guy. And to be fair to Kyrie, almost nobody else is.
I believe that the NBA today has 3 players that can be corner stones of a true contender team and have minimum help from their supporting cast and still pull it off; LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant.
James is the best player in the world, so there is no argument when it comes to him, for God sake Cleveland goes from laughing stock to champions just by adding him.
Kawhi is currently the best two way player in the league (at 26 years young), he is one of the top defenders in the league; he is technically gifted, a hustler, and he is fearless, taking the toughest defensive assignment every time. On the offensive side of the ball he is extremely efficient (averaging more than 25 points a game and shooting nearly 50% from the field). Yeah, you can build a team around this guy.
Durant is, believe it or not, the trickier of the 3. He reached the finals once when he was at OKC, and lost. Then played great regular seasons alongside Westbrook, putting up huge numbers, getting constantly to the playoffs, but never again to the finals. Then the breaking point after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Looking back that may have been the best thing that ever happened to Durant, because now he is in one of the most dominant teams ever assembled. Which brings up the question; How can you say that he could be the main guy on a team with a limited cast and still be a contender?, when he is a part of the machine in Golden State.
Well, did you watch the 2017 finals? KD was a monster. He did everything right on the biggest stage against the toughest opponent in the league (LeBron, not necessarily the Cavs). He scored, he defended, he was clutch, and most importantly he won. The clear finals MVP. Yes he had the machine behind him, but the level of talent displayed by Durant in the finals opened up a fair discussion about him taking over LeBron's spot as the best player in the world. So yeah, KD qualifies.
Back to Kyrie.
He can be as good as any of the 3 above on the offensive side of the ball, he could be the greatest finisher we've ever seen in the NBA, when he starts dribbling opponents and making his way to the rim, he looks unstoppable with his lay-ups, and he is no joke when it comes to 3 point shooting, and he is clutch. Kyrie can ball... On the offense.
When it comes to the defensive side, that same magic is just not there. To be fair, it is really hard to defend in the NBA when you are 6'3", it's just a phisique issue, you are just not as big or as strong as the guys who are coming at you (Just look up in the last finals every time Kyrie had to defend KD, it's just not fair). Having said that, there is another issue with Irving's defense; he doesn't seem to like it. It doesn't, it looks like he is just waiting for the other team to take their shot so he can go back on offense. While other "small" players show more hustle while defending. Stephen Curry is a great example of this, by no mean is Curry a great defender, but he is "scrappier" than Kyrie, adding value to himself.
While on Steph. You noticed I left him out of the list above, well, that's because I don't believe Curry can lead a championship team with a limited supporting cast. Steph is a champion, an MVP, and the best shooter the world has ever seen. But he is also protected by the great system Golden State has created. That's no dig at him, it's just that I believe that in order to be considered in the group above with the other 3 you must, a part from being a great player (Which Curry is, one of the best), have some outstanding physical attributes.
And neither Kyrie nor Curry have them. (Some even say Kyrie is a lesser version of Steph)
So, after having said all that. Yeah, Kyrie should go to the Spurs.
They would be a juggernaut, giving the Warriors a run for their money. And not only that, Kyrie more than likely would keep his numbers up (if not improve them under Popovich), he would be the main offensive weapon in the Spurs. Kawhi is a selfless player, I'm sure he would let Kyrie take the last shot.
So, that is the ideal scenario for Irving, you go to a team where you are going to be in serious title contention, be the main offensive weapon, and be called upon at clutch moments. All this while one of the best 3 players in the world is helping you carry the load. The only "downside" is that this still would be Kawhi's team. I'm sorry Kyrie, you are just not that guy. The guy.
Or you could go to a lesser team, be THE man, and experience the same thing Russell Westbrook does.