One of the more interesting changes we will see this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers will be how the arrival of LeBron James changed the way Kyrie Irving plays, as he tries to get used to the fact that he’s no longer the best and most important player on the team.
There will be no more talk of Kyrie Irving being the blame for the problems Cleveland are having. All the focus from now on will be directed at LeBron James. Everything good that will happen will be because of him, thanks to his return. Everything bad that will happen to this team will also be connected to his presence, although Irving won’t be able to completely avoid the heat and blame, regardless of what his true part in it will be.
Irving was drafted as a savior. He didn’t enter the league with the same kind of reputation and expectations LeBron James had when he finished high school, skipped college and entered the draft as a once in a generation kind of player. He entered the league as someone that was expected to make the transition from the LeBron departure smooth and ultimately successful.
Irving is a very good point guard. Maybe a bit more selfish than the prototypical player in the position, but he is a talented scorer, who can score at will from anywhere on the court. He shines in All-Star games, already picking up an MVP in 2014 for his performance and is the kind of player you can build around. But how good of a team can it be? The Cavs haven’t been making the best decisions in the world, but it should have been better than what we saw up to this point.
Last season there was the constant reminder that Dion Waiters and Irving don’t get along. Waiters was constantly mentioned to be on the trading block. When Irving was injured late in the season it was Waiters who stepped up, doing quite a lot to help the Cavs remain in the playoff picture until it was too late. Now the chemistry inside the team will be changed, hopefully for the good. Irving no longer has the power he once had, despite the five year, $90 million extension he received.
It’s about LeBron James from now on, no one else. His return, his redemption in the eyes of the home fans, and something of a personal quest to become a legend, and champion, on both teams. Kyrie Irving is still a star and will have to be dominant from time to time, but this is no longer his burden to share. It’s a much bigger goal and ambition that he’s suddenly playing for, but for the first time in his career it’s without being the one in the front line of the front page, but a willing sidekick who is here to help, not lead.