Kyrie Irving injury news is not something Cleveland Cavaliers fans want to hear about. This Irving injury is to his right ankle, which is getting called a sprain by Cavs coach Tyronn Lou. A report from NBA analyst Chris Fedor states that the team is still unsure how bad Irving’s ankle injury is at this time. It was wrapped up on Sunday, April 3, forcing Irving to miss a game against the Charlotte Hornets.
Without Kyrie Irving on the court, the Cleveland Cavaliers easily beat the Charlotte Hornets 112-103 on Sunday. It has created a familiar atmosphere on social media, with many basketball fans pointing to the result as a reason the Cavs could be better without Irving. The prior example for this claim came during the 2015 NBA Finals, when LeBron James nearly won the MVP himself as Irving only played in Game 1 of the series.
Playing against the Hornets, Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith covered most of the guard minutes. Dellavedova finished with six points, nine assists, and five rebounds in 31 minutes as the starting point guard. Jr. Smith scored 27 points at shooting guard, including hitting 6-of-9 three-pointers. As for the rest of the offense, LeBron James had 31 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds, while Kevin Love had 25 points and nine rebounds. The Cavs also shot 54.2 percent from the field as they cruised to victory.
Some NBA fans may view the latest Kyrie Irving injury as a way for him get some rest before the 2016 NBA Playoffs begin. He has only played in 49 games this year, though, with several other injuries taking place over the course of the season. Irving has averaged 19.5 points, 4.6 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game during the 2015-16 NBA season. Those numbers are the worst he has had and Irving has compounded it by shooting just 44.5 percent from the field and only 31 percent from three-point range.
When given the chance to really showcase his talents during games LeBron James has missed, Kyrie Irving has instead struggled to be the primary player for the Cavaliers. Since James returned to the Cavs last season, the team is just 4-13 in games he has missed. That includes a 14-point loss to the Washington Wizards and a 15-point loss to the Miami Heat this season. Even when James is resting during games, Irving posts a low plus/minus statistic. Currently, James is at 8.13 on the season, while Kyrie Irving actually has a negative number this year (-0.75).
When comparing the plus/minus of point guards on only the defensive end, Kyrie Irving ranks No. 81 out of 84 players. The statistics indicate he is the fourth-worst defending point guard in the entire NBA. On offense, Irving ranks a bit better, coming in at No. 13 out of the 84 point guards. This shows that while Irving can be a big threat on the offensive end of the floor, he is giving up a lot of points on the other end.
It’s very unclear how long this latest Kyrie Irving injury will keep him on the bench. The Cleveland Cavaliers have just five games left in the regular season and a 3-and-a-half game lead for the best record in the Eastern Conference. This indicates that there is no reason for the Cavs to rush Irving back, as the team would not be served well if his ankle cannot hold up in the postseason.
Every game Irving misses will provide an opportunity for fans to see what the team can do without him on the court. He is still very young in NBA terms (Irving just turned 24), so it’s also possible he still has a lot to learn. Irving also only played 11 games with Duke before getting selected as the No. 1 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Can he continue to improve on both ends of the court? Or could Kyrie Irving become a liability to the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James winning a title this year?
[Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]