As most hoops fans know, the Cleveland Cavaliers recently traded All Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for several valuable assets, including point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected first round pick in next year’s NBA Draft, and the Miami Heat’s second round selection in 2020.
On Thursday, these new members of the organization were officially welcomed to the team by way of an introductory press conference at the Cavs’ practice facility, Cleveland Clinic Courts. Amid the wide-ranging interview, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue was asked a unique question.
“How do Kyrie and Isaiah compare?,” a reporter in attendance asked coach Lue.
In his response, coach Lue calmly stated that he just wants Thomas to be himself and be aggressive.
“There’s not really a difference as far as scoring the basketball. You know, they both can do that.”
“I want Isaiah to be aggressive. Be who you are.”
There are indeed some similarities that can be drawn between Thomas and Irving. Both players are extremely efficient ball-handlers. Both are gifted at driving to the rim and creating a shot. And both are considered to be excellent fourth quarter performers.
As they say, “the proof is in the pudding.” So let’s take a look at the numbers they both finished last season.
In his 72 games played for the Cavs last season, Irving, 25, turned in some of the best stats of his career, averaging a career-high 25.2 points on 47 percent shooting from the field (career-high), 5.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in 35.1 minutes per contest.
As for Thomas, 28, he too posted some of the best numbers of his career last season. In 76 appearances for the Celtics during their 2016-17 campaign, the former Washington Husky standout averaged a career-high 28.9 points on 46 percent shooting from the field (career-high), 5.9 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and just under one steal (.9) in 33.8 minutes per outing.
As you can see, these two players’ stats from last season match up fairly evenly. Sure, there are some variables that come into play when comparing Irving, who played alongside one of the greatest of all time in LeBron James, and Thomas, who was the driving catalyst for the Celtics. For now, though, let’s just wait and see how these two perform in their new roles before we cast judgment.