The Cleveland Cavaliers generated the most buzz out of all NBA teams this offseason by snatching up LeBron James and Kevin Love. They now feature what can be considered a “Big Three” with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. One question surrounding this team is whether or not Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are really superstar players?
Love is a tremendous inside and outside threat to score and he is one the best rebounders in the league. But despite Kevin’s grandiose numbers, the highest his Minnesota Timberwolves finished was last season when they placed 10th. The blame cannot be placed solely on Love’s shoulders because the team has dealt with chemistry issues and never really seemed to have the right veteran leadership during Love’s tenure. Aside from deficiencies in leadership missing from Minnesota’s roster for the past couple seasons, they also lacked consistent backcourt production, mainly because Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea have struggled with consistency.
Love is one of the greatest rebounders of his generation so being named after Wes Unseld suits him very well. He is an excellent three-point shooter and a very intelligent offensive player who reads defenses well and he knows how to find the open the man. Clearly people tend to get on Love because of his lack of defensive prowess, but there are very few legitimate two-way players in the NBA and one could argue that there have never been that many standout two-way players historically. If Love can work on his position team defense and provide a consistent inside scoring threat for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he can help the team go far – especially considering the fact that he would not have to be the team leader. Having LeBron take on the leadership role is good because Love still seems to have some significant improving to do as a leader.
Irving is one of the more dynamic NBA point guards. His game combines exciting playmaking creativity with subtle long-range shooting efficiency and there is little doubt about his talent. The Cavs finished 10th in the Eastern Conference last season, which is the best the team has finished since Irving joined them. A consistent second option has also been a problem for the team over the past couple of seasons coupled with Irving’s nagging injury issues, which doesn’t help the fact that they’ve also been struggling with team chemistry.
Irving’s deficiencies are similar to those of Love’s. As far as his actual game play goes, again like Love, he needs to improve as a team defender. He has to make sure his conditioning is at a level that will allow him to play hard on both ends of the floor on a consistent basis. In fairness to both Kyrie and Kevin, they each have had a myriad of injury issues that may have hurt their conditioning and might have been causing them to take plays off defensively in order to provide the scoring their teams’ needed from them. Lastly I would like to see Irving showcase his playmaking abilities more and create more plays for others now that he has better scorers to play with.
There is no question Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are two of the better players in the NBA, but to truly be considered superstars they have to win. They now have the opportunity to play with LeBron James and if they can win a ring with the King, they can silence the doubters and prove that they are indeed superstars.