As a collective, I think we can all agree Kyrie Irving in Miami was originally an unthinkable and unattainable pipe dream that was purely a pipe dream. Nothing more. But, leave it to the man, Chris Haynes, to shake up Heat Nation.
ESPN Sources: On Kyrie Irving front, Cavs were given four preferred landing spots: New York, Miami, San Antonio, Minnesota.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 21, 2017
Kyrie Irving in Miami. This idea is absolutely ludicrous. I highly doubt anyone could have dreamed an Irving to Miami rumor was feasible. Then again, it's 2017 and the Golden State Warriors managed to maintain their core four, so anything’s possible.
Now, a rumor is one thing. And a preferred destination is another. The reality is, what do the Heat have to offer the Cleveland Cavaliers besides Goran Dragic and a future first round pick? These are the questions I will be ignoring in order to create a "dream land" state for you. Here, in dream land, anything is possible.
Let's say Pat Riley has pulled off the trade of the year for Miami. Let's also say, Miami traded a package that included Dragic. You now have a starting lineup of Irving, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow/Josh Richardson, James Johnson, and Hassan Whiteside. On paper, this is one of the best starting lineups in the East. Throw in a bench of Bam Adebayo, Tyler Johnson, and Josh Richardson, and you have a playoff contender.
How would Irving work with the Heat in actuality, though?
If you break it down, the Heat would essentially be adding a younger version of Goran Dragic. Both Dragic and Irving can play off the ball and also be the primary ball handler, make tough shots, finish at the rim, and adapt. One advantage that Irving has over Goran is his isolation play. Kyrie is one of the best isolation players in the league. Among all players with a frequency of over 20 percent, Irving was the only one to score above one point per possession (1.12 to be exact). I may be overstepping my bounds here, but Irving is a younger, craftier Dragic.
One issue that may come from Irving's arrival is a possible conflict between Dion Waiters and Irving. See, Waiters plays with a cocky "I'm the best player on the court" mentality that wouldn't fly if he played alongside Irving because the main reason Irving wants out of Cleveland is because it is no longer his team. When LeBron James returned to Cleveland, Irving was immediately bumped to the second option, which was not the original plan. Irving signed a contract with the Cavaliers just two weeks before LeBron arrived with the mindset that he was the Cavs "guy" going forward. Now? He's stuck as the number two option and he wants out. Dion would have to take a backseat if Irving makes his way to Miami, similar to when they both played together in Cleveland.
Another issue that could occur is too many isolation plays. Granted, Erik Spoelstra will do his best to widdle down the isolation plays to the best of his ability, but sometimes you have to let the players play. Along with Irving, Waiters had a frequency to attempt isolation plays above 20 percent. This begs the question, who is taking the final shot? From anyone who knows anything about basketball the answer is Kyrie Irving. No questions asked. But, when Waiters is on the floor, you can throw facts out of the window. Those two will have to learn to play together.
Besides Waiters, Miami doesn't have a player with a superstar mentality. Irving can come to South Beach and become a vocal leader on the team and guide both young and older players to victories and carry them through losses. Irving can become the heart and soul of this team.
As far as his fit with the Heat and their style of "drive and kick" play, Irving would have to adjust his game a little.
Irving is a "score-first" point guard, which can cause issues with Miami's offense. Spoelstra has implemented an offense that worked around Dragic and his willingness to pass the ball if he needs to. Irving would have to adapt to play like Dragic.
Irving shoots a clean 40 percent from three, which means he can play along the perimeter if he needs to. But, he has the ability to take it to the hole as well. As one of the best finishers in the league, he can force the defense to collapse around him and then dish it out to an open teammate waiting for their shot.
The problem is that Kyrie has always been a scoring guard and I doubt that will change as long as he is winning games.
I hate to say it Heat Nation, but we may have to let this one go. Irving could very well be a loss for Miami if Riley trades for him. Unless he changes his style of play, as well as committing to a significantly different defensive mentality, it's not worth it. We need to stick with the guys that we have and run it back this year.
Although, the thought of having Irving is oh so sweet.