Power Rankings for the Week of March 14th

The team that has been most affected by the Warriors historic season is the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Upon the arrival of LeBron James and the subsequent roster moves and despite LeBron himself cautioning patience towards a title, the expectation in Cleveland became “championship or bust” immediately.  Last year started off choppy, but ultimately LeBron was able to will a team that had lost Kevin Love early and Kyrie Irving later to within 2 games of winning a championship.

As the years go on, however, the pressure mounts to reach the promised ‘Land and the Cavs continue to feel that very pressure.  The Cavs fired David Blatt despite being #1 in the East and with a better win % than they have now, added Channing Frye to their payroll despite a glut of forwards (including LeBron, who should play more at the 4) – and reportedly were trying to add Joe Johnson.  These are all fine decisions that can be justified, but the Warriors being so far ahead of the race makes this year’s efforts continue to seem futile which I believe is also contributing to the rumors of some of the locker room friction.  Ultimately, it is unlikely the Cavaliers win a championship this season (not impossible) and I think that in that case it will be time for the Cavs to explore splitting up the Big 3 of LeBron, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving.  Out of the three, the most frequent name that has popped up in trade rumors for a myriad of reasons has been Kevin Love.  While I believe that the Cavs haven’t been able to fully integrate Love in a basketball sense in a consistent way, I actually believe that the odd man out in this scenario might be Kyrie Irving.

Even before the rumors of tension between Kyrie and LeBron, I tweeted some things out that I still believe to be relatively true.  All of these tweets were before Kyrie and LeBron played a single game together.

 

 

 

At the end of the day, Kyrie Irving was an up and coming superstar in this league that was viewed as a franchise centerpiece. While injury trouble and his need to defer to LeBron in the current system have marred his reputation somewhat, I’m sure Kyrie and his management team feel that he should be a #1 option.  Wasn’t he supposed to be what turned around Cleveland’s fortunes?

LeBron isn’t to be blamed for this not working perfectly, either.  With a player that has as high an IQ as LeBron, and with as large a stature as LeBron, it is inevitable that he will be the alpha dog on the team.  Part of the reason he came back to Cleveland was to exert more control on the entire organization in contrast to what he was able to do with the Heat, which he has now been able to do, and the Cavs have gladly enabled that.  In addition, a part of LeBron’s game is to also dominate the ball and be involved in the direction of each play, another facet of LeBron’s game that comes naturally to him.  In this regard, I believe that Kyrie is not at a stage in his career that he can willingly give that power up, nor should he.  This isn’t on Kyrie, either.  The best point guard that worked with LeBron in a complete sense was Mario Chalmers – a big shot maker that didn’t need the ball and was a good defender.  While Kyrie is a big shot maker, he both needs to dominate the ball and isn’t a spectacular defender.

Moving forward, I think the Cavaliers management should maximize the return on Kyrie Irving this summer and try to go hard at a player with a similar style as Mario Chalmers and add to the team’s depth.  Kyrie’s game will simply never be maximized on this team and I don’t think any player at his stage in his career would give up his prime years willingly.  Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade in recent years accepted more of a “shared franchise player” role only after spending time on their own playing at a high level.  Kevin Love is there, and he’ll figure it out – I think it’s time to move on from Kyrie.

Power Rankings (LW in this case means for 2 weeks ago – no Power Rankings last week)

  1. Warriors (59-6) [LW:1]
  2. Spurs (56-10) [LW:2]
  3. Cavaliers (47-18) [LW:4]
  4. Thunder (44-22) [LW:3]
  5. Raptors (44-20) [LW:5]
  6. Clippers (42-23) [LW:6]
  7. Celtics (39-27) [LW:7]
  8. Hornets (37-28) [LW:15]
  9. Heat (38-28) [LW:8]
  10. Hawks (38-29) [LW:10)
  11. Pacers (35-31) [LW:12]
  12. Grizzlies (39-27) [LW:9]
  13. Trailblazers (35-32) [LW:11]
  14. Pistons (34-32) [LW:16]
  15. Mavericks (33-33) [LW:17]
  16. Rockets (29-30) [LW:19]
  17. Bucks (29-38) [LW:21]
  18. Jazz (31-35) [LW:14]
  19. Wizards (30-35) [LW:18]
  20. Bulls (32-32) [LW:13]
  21. Magic (26-32) [LW:24]
  22. Nuggets (28-38) [LW:20]
  23. Timberwolves (21-45) [LW:25]
  24. Pelicans (24-41) [LW:22]
  25. Kings (25-40) [LW:23]
  26. Knicks (28-40) [LW:26]
  27. Nets (18-48) [LW:27]
  28. Lakers (14-53) [LW:28]
  29. Suns (17-49) [LW:29]
  30. 76ers (9-57) [LW: 30]

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