LeBron James has never played with a point guard like young Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving. James’ point guards of the past have instead included the likes of Mo Williams, Mario Chalmers and Eric Snow.
Nice players. But not Irving — the reigning All-Star Game MVP.
Nor has James played with a power forward like Kevin Love. Nothing against Chris Bosh of the Heat, who’s uniquely talented in his own right, but Love truly is a one-of-a-kind type of guy.
By now, you’ve heard the news. While nothing is official, the Cavs are set to land Love from the Timberwolves. In exchange, the Cavs will surrender No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins, second-year forward Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first-rounder (per Yahoo Sports columnist and FOX Sports 1 insider Adrian Wojnarowski). The trade is expected to go down at the end of the month, once Wiggins is eligible to be dealt.
That means the Cavs’ roster would feature James, Irving and Love — all on the same team. That’s a four-time league MVP and two-time champion in James. That’s a two-time All-Star in Irving. That’s a three-time All-Star in Love.
James is 29. Irving is 22. Love turns 26 next month.
So that is also three guys in the prime of their careers. In fact, for Irving and Love (and heck, perhaps James), the best could still be yet to come.
And man, that says a lot. That makes the Cavs a contender for a championship right away. It certainly puts them out front in the Eastern Conference.
Think about it.
Irving is a 20-point scorer, the NBA’s best ball-handler this side of the Clippers’ Chris Paul, a guy who can get to the basket whenever the mood strikes. He can penetrate, he can find the open man. He can push the tempo or play half-court. And under creative new coach David Blatt, Irving might look a lot like a young Steve Nash. Or perhaps better yet, Irving should look like a young Irving.
Meanwhile, Love is the extremely rare combination of a "stretch four" who can also lead the league in rebounding. In other words, Love may be 6-foot-10, but he buries threes like a 6-4 shooting guard. He’s comfortable on the perimeter, dominant underneath, and has turned the outlet pass into a major problem for opponents.
And you already know all about James. He’s the game’s most dangerous player, unquestionably the most well-rounded dude at his position.
This doesn’t even include the likes of up-and-coming shooting guard Dion Waiters, who the Cavs view as sort of a mini-Dwyane Wade, or hustling fourth-year power forward Tristan Thompson, who may be at his very best coming off the bench.
You could also do a lot worse than veteran shooting guard Mike Miller and veteran big man Anderson Varejao. Both are former LeBron teammates, both have been to the Finals.
But this is about the Cavs’ potential Big Three. This is about Irving, and from the sounds of things, Love, and how these Cavs stack up against James’ teams of the past.
Without question, nothing LeBron experienced in Cleveland the first time (2003-10) comes close to what is here now. He never teamed with a point like Kyrie. He never joined anyone who could start the break with a rebound and pinpoint pass like Love.
In Miami, James played next to Bosh and Wade. Hard to go wrong there. But this isn’t 2010, when Wade was healthy and Bosh was at his very best. This is four years later, with the Heat needing to preserve Wade and his creaky knees, and Bosh’s game moving farther and farther away from the basket.
One thing James did learn in Miami, admittedly, was that ultra-talent alone doesn’t guarantee a title. You need chemistry, and sometimes, that takes a bit to develop. Especially when the idea is a Big Three like the Cavs expect to soon possess.
But it sure beats the alternative. It sure beats trying to do it alone, trying to do it without an everyday starting point guard, trying to play off starting power forwards who don’t own the many lethal skills of Love.
For LeBron James and the Cavaliers, this is as good as it gets, as good as it’s ever been. And yeah, it will probably still get better yet.