When trades come up in the NBA, new and exciting things happen in the world of basketball. We’ve seen big things happen in the past for the Cavaliers when Lebron came back for the 2nd time. For Suns fans the grab of Kevin Durant gave hope for a new big 3, for Russell Westbrook it meant another chance in Utah. One of the most exciting trades we saw in the 2023 season was the Mavericks picking up Kyrie Irving.
Just a few days before the NBA trade deadline the Mavericks agreed to trade Kyrie Irving and Markeiff Morris for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-smith, a 2029 first-round pick and two future second-round picks. This is exciting for Mavericks fans, if the Kyrie we saw with the Cavaliers shows up. Kyrie Irving is playing great this year as well, and it will be interesting to see what he and Luka Doncic will do together.
Now Kyrie Irving does have some negativity surrounding his name as well. He may be a 9 time NBA all star, but he has been a liability in the past. Kyrie Irving not only has had some issues with the NBA on a social level, but he also hasn’t had a season where he has missed 10 or less games. The amount of games he has missed in his career adds up to almost 30% of all of his career games.
It’s hard to call Kyrie unreliable, but 30% is a lot when you look at other athletes who have only missed an average of 5-10 games. This also is a reason that I believe he struggled so much with establishing himself on the Nets, and why I think the team struggled with chemistry. Even though he is a great ball handler, and does a lot for his team as a player, the constant buzz around his name through covid, certain comments, and being very flakey with how often he plays is something that needs to be thought of too.
Besides the things listed above, there are hopeful things when considering what Kyrie Irving can do for the Mavericks. Even through his struggles on and off the court, Kyrie Irving has maintained an average of 27.2 points. This shows that he still has the talent that the Mavericks want. He is also an effective shooter, which is something the Mavericks are struggling with. He has maintained an efg% of over 50% ever since the 2016-2017 so in terms of his scoring and shooting he is someone you want on your team.
We talked about what Kyrie Irving can do offensively from handles, to effectiveness, to scoring, but we also should talk about what he does defensively. In the last 5 seasons, per 100 possessions, Kyrie Irving has managed to maintain a defensive rating of 114. To put that in perspective, the league average is 110. Kyrie Irving proved his defensive skills in the finals against Steph Curry and the Warriors, and he was able to help the Cavaliers come back from a 3-1 deficit. He had 15 steals throughout the series, which was the most he has ever had through a playoff run.
Now with some background information about Irving, we should look at how he has done with the Mavericks so far. It is the NBA All-star weekend and we only have a small sample size, but there has been potential for great things since the trade.
In his debut with the Mavericks Kyrie Irving had 24 points and shot over 50% from the floor and beyond the arc. One thing that is worth noting is the different pace between his style of play and Luka’s style of play. Kyrie pushes the ball up the court quicker than what Luka does, and the other guys on the team seem to keep up with his pace well. The way Irving moves the ball quickly allows for defenders to have to play catch-up and it also helps the other guys score. In just his first game with the Mavericks, it is sort of an expectation for the ‘’new guy’’ to have to adapt to his new team, but he looked quite comfortable as well as the rest of the team.
All the starters in the Clippers game were able to put up double digits, and I think since they didn’t have Luka, they didn’t try to keep the ball in the star’s hand. The different pace allowed for Bullock to have a great game, as well as Green, who has had his fair share of ups and downs. It’s also interesting that the Mavericks are 0-2 when Luka and Kyrie have played, but that is most likely due to their different styles of play, and with time that will be able to be adjusted. In the game against the Kings where they lost, Irving, Doncic, and Wood all had 30+ points. They were up against the team that was 2nd in the west, so we shouldn’t worry yet. There is potential there for the Mavs, and it’ll be interesting to see what goes on with the 2 all stars on the team.
It’s too early to call this an A trade, and we will have to see what Kyrie does for the rest of the season. The Mavericks did lose Dinwiddie, and Finney-Smith who are 2 players that had high usage with the Mavericks, and that has to be taken under consideration as well. Irving has adapted well with the style of play of the Mavericks, and if he keeps this up and doesn’t become a liability it looks promising.