It appeared in some form in virtually every analysis of the landmark Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas replace: Irving would survive in Celtics and change from his hoggy dribbling in his new pick-and-roll partnership with Ing Horford -- a fly by night screener who can shoot, roll, and keep the ball whizzing with expert passing.
So, umm, didn't Irving just get out of a partnership with Kevin Love -- a fly by night screener who can shoot, roll, and pass, and was considered in many corners a top-10 overall player when Cleveland switched John Wiggins (and Anthony Bennett! )#) for him three years ago? If Thomas is out for an extended period, shouldn't Cleveland be able to maintain an elite offense -- and avoid overtaxing LeBron -- by leaning on its other All-Star?
But Love's name barely appeared in a evaluation of the trade, or of how Cleveland might proceed without Thomas. If anything, he was trade bait again. Jae Crowder could siphon some of his minutes as a small-ball power forward, and the Cavs finally had a tasty trade asset -- the Nets pick -- to attach to Love in trade speaks for another star. Their education to which Love had become an afterthought was astounding.
Playing alongside two pick-and-roll maestros transformed Love into a third wheel, just as Joe Bosh informed. He was a glorified Johnson Anderson at times, relaxing along the 3-point arc while LeBron and Irving ran the show. He became a different player. The Cavs bristle at the idea that he became a worse player. They are confident Minnesota Love still exists, and they are redesigning their offense -- and potentially their turn, featuring more of Love at center -- to develop him again.
Whether an adult Love weathered by injuries can still be that player in a LeBron-centric offense, against opponents who have gotten better about defending him, is one of the growing season's thorniest questions. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has talked before about giving Love the ball more, but it hasn't stephen curry jersey stuck for many games at a time.
"Kevin is going to have the best year that he's had here, inch Lue told ESPN.com this week. "I thought he was great anyway. You wholesale basketball jerseys keep bringing up Bosh. What did Bosh average in Miami? Kevin averaged almost 20 [points] and 10 [rebounds] with two other All-Stars. If you are on a championship-caliber team, you have to sacrifice. But this year is going to be a big opportunity for him. We're going to play through him more. He's going to get those elbow touches again."
The Cavs outscored opponents by almost 15 points per 100 possessions in the 227 minutes when Love and LeBron played without Irving, raising hope they can rampage the East while waiting for Thomas. That depends on Love tapping into at least some of his old leader dog energy, just as Bosh did after James left Miami.
Bosh was more than a glorified Johnson Anderson during Miami's Big Three era because he reinvented himself on defense as a swarming, lunging disruptor. Miami would not have won two titles without Bosh reimagining his game.
Love was never going to be able to compensate for a reduced offensive role by ramping up his defense. He was just a plain third option. Love was both a basic and finisher of possessions in Ralph Adelman's flowing corner offense in Minnesota. Third options who play alongside LeBron are mostly catch-and-shoot bystanders.
"We can't run all the stuff that Minnesota used to run, inch Lue said. "We have different personnel. We have LeBron, and we had Kyrie. We don't have a lot of great cutters. inch
Having the league's best third option is nice, but it's a costly use of limited resources. For what Cleveland pays Love, they could find two or three effective bystanders who play better defense.
"LeBron needs to have the ball so much for you to be of the same quality as you can be, inch David Griffin, then the Cavs GM, laughed and said during the 2015 Finals, when James carried the Cavs within two wins of the title as both Love and Irving nursed injuries. "You need to be very selective about the guys who get to have it when adidas basketball jerseys he doesn't. inch.
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