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Who’s the Better Sidekick for LeBron: Love or Irving?

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2014 off-season, the Cavs were head and shoulders above every other franchise in what they were able to achieve. Re-signing Kyrie Irving to a max five year deal, trading for Kevin Love, a three time All-Star, and bringing back Ohio’s prodigal son, LeBron James. With all these new (and old) faces in town there comes a time of adjustment. Not only is forming team chemistry in a short period of time a tough ask, but adapting to a completely new role is easy for no one.

LeBron James is the best basketball player on the face of the earth, so his role as team leader and the number one scoring option remains. The players who will have to make the biggest adjustments in Cleveland are Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. The quicker they learn to supplement James’ game, the better off the Cavaliers will be. But who is best suited to do so?

{adinserter 2}Kyrie Irving is the best point guard LeBron has ever played with, period. The last starting point guard LeBron had in Cleveland was Mo Williams. Mo was also a scoring point guard, but was more than happy to make the right passes, float around the perimeter and take the open shot. LeBron in most cases was Cleveland’s primary ball handler. In the current Cavs squad, Kyrie will remain the primary ball handler. After the Cavs first practice of training camp this year, LeBron made it clear:

“I’ll probably handle the ball a little bit, but this is Kyrie’s show.”

In the very early going this season, we have witnessed two very different Cavs teams. In games against the Blazers and Jazz, the Cavs were simply horrible. Ball movement is one the key components in David Blatt’s Princeton-like offense, and in both of these losses, Cleveland over dribbled the ball. Ball movement starts with your Point Guard, your floor general. That starts with Kyrie Irving. In those two losses, Irving averaged 2.5 assists a night. Meanwhile, in Cleveland’s two earlier wins of the season facing Denver and Chicago, Irving averaged 4.5 assists per night. Last night in the Cavs’ big win at home against the Pelicans, Kyrie recorded 9 assists! After a rocky start, Kyrie has shown a commitment to progress his facilitative abilities; and we know that commitment creates results. In Wednesday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz, Kyrie had no problem scoring the ball. He had 34 points on the night, but couldn’t manage a single assist in almost forty-five minutes of play. Friday night in Denver, Kyrie had 12 points, and 6 assists, and the Cavs won. No longer do we need Kyrie to put up 25+ points a night for the Cavs to be victorious. For the Wine and Gold to compete at a level in which they can reach and possibly win the NBA Finals, Kyrie needs to average closer to double digit assists a night.

With the talent that surrounds Irving on the hardwood at the Q, only good things can happen when the right passes are made. I mean, does it get any better than this?

The adjustment period for Kevin Love is already looking like its running smoothly. Love has arguably been Cleveland’s best player so far this season. Love has three double-doubles in five games and, with his high basketball IQ, can create plays for his teammates in the open court:

Kevin Love has the potential to be the perfect complement to LeBron James. Love has an incredible outside shooting touch for a player of his size, as well as a soft touch and strength to make him a dominant low post scorer. With Love possessing the talent to score on the perimeter and in the low post, this gives LeBron and the Cavs so many options. Love can run both the pick and roll, as well and the pick and pop. With the outside shooting touch that he possesses, defenders have to respect him on the perimeter, drawing one of the opposition’s big men out of paint and creating more scoring room for LeBron on the inside. Love simply makes Cleveland a more versatile team.

Love is a double-double machine, and you know you’re going to get the same gritty performance from the UCLA graduate every single night. Love has been in the league a few more years than Kyrie and shows a little more maturity and knowledge of the game, which will make the transition into becoming a secondary scorer a little easier. Love seems to have already accepted the role of ‘sidekick’ in Cleveland, and has excelled in that role.

With time comes team chemistry, with team chemistry comes wins, and with wins comes titles. This team needs time to gel, which they have. Perhaps Kyrie will find himself in a Robin suit next to LeBatman James later in the season; but this city and its fan base must stay patient and understand that this is a long process.

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