Why the Celtics are a dynasty with Kyrie Irving

So Jason McIntyre tweeted this earlier and the city of Boston lost its collective mind.

Look Celtics fans, I love Isaiah as much as the next guy but Kyrie is a better player plain and simple. Not only is Kyrie a better player than Isaiah he’s younger and he’s cheaper. Isaiah is going to want max money entering his 30-year-old season after next year. Kyrie is under team control for two years and is only going to be 27 when he is eligible for a new contract.

Let me preface this by saying McIntyre’s offer is too high on Boston’s side. Players who publically demand trades don’t usually get fair returns (see George, Paul). A more likely scenario is IT4, Jae Crowder, the Lakers/Kings and the Clippers/Memphis pick for Kyrie.

However, the Celtics can afford to overpay for a superstar as they still have a ridiculous collection of assets. They can afford to throw in a player like Yabusele or Ante Zizic or some of the SEVEN first round picks they have in the next 3 years to get a deal done. The Celtics can’t draft all those players; they just simply don’t have the room for all those rookies on a team that is trying to compete for a championship. They need to consolidate some of these assets into star players. Kyrie is a star player.

I get the argument for Isaiah, I really do. Kyrie’s and Isaiah’s the numbers last year are very comparable, with Isaiah having a slight edge in some categories. It’s important to remember when looking at these stats that Isaiah is playing in an offense that Brad Stevens has tailored to him. Kyrie is playing on a team and in a system that is centered around Lebron. While Lebron is the 2d best player to ever play basketball and he frequently makes those around him better, sometimes players don’t maximize their ability because they are deferring to him. Look at Kevin Love. K-Love was a double-double machine in Minnesota, in Cleveland he is a glorified spot up 3 point shooter. The point is Kyrie and Isaiah’s numbers are comparable now, but what would they be like if Kyrie was put in a system that maximizes his talent.

Even Isaiah and Kyrie’s defensive stats are pretty similar

While their numbers are similar, there is a huge difference between these two players defensively. Isaiah is a bad defender because he is undersized, Kyrie is a bad defender because his effort is lacking on that side of the ball. Effort can be improved, height cannot.

The Celtics are in a position to get a 25-year-old superstar. It’d cost them a 28-year-old dynamic scoring point guard, one of the leagues best contracts and some picks to get it done but that is a price worth paying for Kyrie. Isaiah’s hip injury scares me more than it does most, this is the same injury that derailed Jonny Flynn’s career. I get that Jonny Flynn was never of Isaiah Thomas’s caliber but he was very good in his rookie year before the injury and relied on his speed and quickness as a smaller guard, sound familiar? Those physical attributes never returned after the injury. I am rooting for Isaiah, but there is no guarantee he is going to ever be the player he was before the injury. Jae Crowder needs to go, he’s on this team because of his contract. The truth is the Celtics have way too many SF’s. Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Abdel Nader, their primary position is the 3. Sure they can play other positions but that’s still way too many guys who basically play the same position. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are the future of this team, they need minutes to develop.

The Celtics best chance at a title is going to be a core of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and the 2018 Nets pick. Kyrie Irving will still be in his prime when those guys come into their own as NBA players. Gordon Hayward will still be a very good NBA player at that point as well. That version of the Celtics has a chance to not only be a title contender but a title favorite. Beating the Warriors in the next few years is going to be near impossible, Trading for a player like Kyrie extends your title window exponentially. He has the ability to be a superstar player in both your current title window and with the future core. Losing players like IT4 and Jae Crowder hurts but if you look at the big picture and what Kyrie can bring to your team, in the long run, it’s an opportunity definitely worth exploring.

 

Matt McKenna
Baseline Times NBA Contributor