Boston, MA– It only makes to start the series of off-season profiles for the Boston Celtics with the player who is definitely the best on the team: the highly controversial and majorly talented point guard, Kyrie Irving. In the coming months of the NBA off-season, there will be plenty to talk about with Kyrie and what his plans are during the impending free agency period, but for now, we are going to take a look back at how Irving performed during the 2018-19 season and what his future with the Celtics will be if he elects to stay.
There is no denying that, on the court, Kyrie had an exceptional season. During the regular season, Kyrie played in 67 games with solid scoring numbers. He averaged 23.8 points per game on .487 shooting percentage from the field. While neither of these numbers were good for career highs, Kyrie did post his best ever numbers in rebounds and assists per game with 5.0 and 6.9, respectively. Kyrie was a beast this year and his numbers earned him spots in the All-Star Game and on the All-NBA Second Team.
But Kyrie’s season was definitely more defined by his off the court attitude. After beginning the season with a promise that he would sign with the Celtics long term, disappointing team performances ultimately resulted in comments from Kyrie about how he did not owe anyone anything in terms of his future. Which is fair, but, you know, just don’t say otherwise if that feeling has the potential to arise.
Irving also said the Celtics would right the ship in the post-season because of him. A second round exit in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks on the heels of abysmal Irving performances proved this false. In the NBA, actions speak louder than words, and Irving’s words rang hollow when he showed on the court that he is not a leader. A great player, sure, but not the kind who can carry a team on his back as we are currently seeing Kawhi Leonard do with the Toronto Raptors.
Irving is best suited to the role of sidekick, and that is not the role he has with the Celtics. If he does leave during the off-season, the decision will not be as disappointing as it would have been back in October. And if he stays, he’s going to need a real leader to play off of.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Erik Drost