After the Cleveland Cavaliers traded their star point guard, Kyrie Irving, for the Boston Celtics’ forward, Jae Crowder, backup center, Ante Zizic, a 2018 draft pick from the Brooklyn Nets and their beloved all-star point guard, Isaiah Thomas, fans of both cities are left unhappy. The fans of Cleveland feel that they just traded a sure-shot Hall of Famer for an injury prone maybe-Hall of Famer and the fans of Boston feel like their favorite player with the grace of a seasoned acrobat has been ripped away from them.
“You have to think of it in a business situation,” Cedric Maxwell, Celtics’ legendary forward and radio analyst, said. “Kyrie Irving is the best point guard right now in the NBA.”
While NBA fans have shared their collective thoughts which support the latter part of Maxwell’s statement, the numbers from the 2016-17 season say otherwise:
Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game, while Irving only averaged 25.2, Thomas averaged 5.9 assists per game, but Irving only averaged slightly less at 5.8 and Thomas averaged 3.2 three-point baskets per game, yet Irving only averaged 2.5. Apart from stats, the hypotheticals are daunting for the Land’s fans: Irving put up impressive numbers last year (however dwarfed they may have been by Thomas’s) and helped bring the Cavs to the NBA Finals in the last three years, including being the Most Valuable Player of the Finals in their only victory in 2015-16, but he did that surrounded by LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyle Korver. Despite their obvious skill, he’ll most likely be playing amongst a lower level of play with Al Horford, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart.
Thomas, according to C’s head coach Brad Stevens, might not even be ready for 2017-18 Training Camp, which begins on September 26, more than a month away. He has also remained, while extremely hardworking, rather injury prone. With the possibility of James leaving in the near future, Cleveland will have trouble even making the playoffs when led by Iman Shumpert, Love, Korver and a Thomas who may be hurt more often than even Derrick Rose!
With that in mind, stats are stats, and there’s no way to take away from the fact that Thomas achieved record numbers with a team that couldn’t make it to Game 6 in the 2016-17 Eastern Conference Finals (against Cleveland, however). The opposing side is that Irving was playing with a team chock-full of great players, namely James, arguably the greatest player of all-time, so he did have to share the load, which is not something Thomas often struggled with. After all, Irving’s main goal for leaving Northeastern Ohio was to be the star of the team. Beantown also finds solace in the truth that, granted, neither player is much of a defender, Irving’s defense puts Thomas’s to shame.
“We feel comfortable with who Kyrie is and who he can be,” Danny Ainge, legendary Celtics’ point guard, teammate of Maxwell and current owner of the team, said when asked about the emotional effect on the city Boston. Massachusetts fans have a right to be a little unsettled about trading their “King in the Fourth” for “Uncle Drew” and, if “I.T.” can stay healthy, much to the dismay and chagrin of die-hard Bostonians, the numbers certainly make it look like Cleveland got the better end of this shocking deal.