The Boston Celtics have an abundance of talent on their roster. Kyrie Irving is the undisputed superstar, but his future with the franchise is uncertain. Would the Celtics be better off without Kyrie Irving? Absolutely not, and here are the reasons why.
Kyrie Irving is arguably the toughest player to guard in the NBA. He is in the conversation for best handles in the league (maybe all-time) and has a legitimate case for being the best at finishing at the rim. He makes the Boston Celtics an automatic championship contender.
However, with the rise of players such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier, the Celtics seem to have a problem of too much talent. Along with Gordon Hayward, any of the aforementioned players can make the case of being a starter.
This has led some to question whether Boston actually needs Kyrie Irving for future success. The New York Knicks have felt confident about filling one of their two max slots with Kyrie Irving’s services this summer. If he walks, would the Celtics actually be better off?
The answer is simple: no they would not. Kyrie Irving gives the Boston Celtics their best shot at an NBA title.
As with any argument, look at the stat sheet and it is clear that Kyrie Irving’s production is found in multiple areas. Kyrie leads the Celtics with 23.4 points per game and 7.0 assists per game. His 24.7 PER is the highest of the core players, and his true shooting percentage is close to 60 percent. It is worth noting that his PER is higher than Al Horford‘s, who plays closer to the rim.
If Kyrie is gone, Rozier or Marcus Smart is likely to run the point. They rank 10th and 12th in player efficiency respectively for Boston. Yes, chances are their production could see a jump with more playing time. But the likelihood is that they won’t come near to the production of Irving.
Playoffs vs Regular Season
Since Kyrie joined the Celtics last season, the rest of the roster has proven itself capable of winning games in Irving’s absence. There are numerous players that could easily be starting on any given night. This gives Boston an enormous advantage in the case of injuries down the stretch.
The playoffs are a different beast in comparison to the regular season. We saw this play out to fruition in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Despite missing Kevin Love and being on the road, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 7 victory over the Irving-less Celtics.
In the playoffs, rotations become smaller and the game slows down. More moments call for your star player to come through in the clutch. Kyrie Irving is arguably one of -if not- the best clutch players in the league right now. No matter how many regular season wins Boston gets without him, the playoffs are where they need him the most.
Teaming up with Kyrie
Here is an argument that is overlooked when looking at Kyrie’s impact. There is a reason why the Celtics believe they have a shot at convincing Anthony Davis to join Boston this summer and long-term. It is also the same reason why the speculation is there for Kevin Durant joining the New York Knicks. Both of those scenarios involve teaming up with Kyrie Irving.
It is one thing if your team has a star player, it is another if that player can attract others to join alongside them. Currently, the Celtics have that in that Kyrie Irving. The hope is that he’ll stay long term, and continue that trend.
Irving’s style of play allows for having an additional superstar alongside him. This advantage is not something that is observed on a box score, but it can do wonders for a franchise. In today’s league, you almost certainly need two or three superstars to be a contender.
It’s easy to get enamored with regular season numbers, but don’t be fooled when it comes to the Celtics and Kyrie. Danny Ainge traded for Irving because his superstar talent elevated this team to contender status. The hope is that come July 1st, that still rings true for the Celtics for years to come.
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Basketball: Kyrie Irving: Do the Celtics Need Him to Win?