Perhaps we’ve been looking at the wrong teammate when it comes to LeBron James’ cryptic usage of social media lately.
When James tweets random nonsense or goes to hang out with his former Miami Heat teammates, most of us figure he’s taking shots at Kevin Love for not fitting in with the Cavaliers. But after Cleveland’s embarrassing 106-103 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, reports are starting to leak that any disconnect on the team is actually between James and point guard Kyrie Irving (via Yahoo! Sports):
Irving remains a dynamic scorer, but the disconnect between Irving and James is real, several scouts and coaches told The Vertical, with the on-court chemistry between the two, said one scout who saw Cleveland play recently, “basically nonexistent.” Team sources insist the relationship is solid, that James is simply teaching, trying to raise Irving’s basketball IQ. No one understands Irving’s importance more than James, team sources told The Vertical, which is why no one is working harder than James to get the two All-Stars on the same page.
This is something of a repeat from James’ time in Miami, where he had to learn how to co-exist with Dwyane Wade, another ball-dominant guard who wasn’t a perfect fit with James’ skillset. Make no mistake: Irving and James are much more complementary players than the Heat’s dynamic duo was. But the two Cavs stars only work well together when James lets Irving have the ball in his hands. If James tries to take over, Irving is left standing in the corner, because Cleveland’s offense simply isn’t sophisticated enough (yet) to account for all the offensive firepower.
Of course, that can still be pretty effective. It’s just not title-worthy:
The Heat had coach Erik Spoelstra to convince Miami’s stars that the whole was greater than the sum and that they needed to work together. Yet Wade and James are contemporaries; Irving’s youth adds a dynamic to his relationship with James that was missing with the Heat. He’s trying to come into his own as a point guard and a star in the league. Meanwhile, he has one of the greatest players ever trying to tell him what to do in order to help LeBron win more rings. Whether James is teaching Irving what’s best for Irving is an open question.
Control what you can control. Sounds so cliche, but its the bold truth. Good Morning!!
With Love, the Cavs know what they have. They’re simply not doing a good job of making the most of his talents. Irving and James have yet to figure out who’s doing what with this team, and it shows in the disjointed offense. Everything that’s wrong with Cleveland’s offense starts with the inability of its two best ball-handlers to work together.
For now, James has to do what he can to guide Irving and help him become a championship-winning point guard. But it sounds like that process has come in fits and starts even into the second year of LeBron’s second coming to Cleveland.