How Worried Should Cleveland Cavaliers Be About Kyrie Irving's Injury Woes?
It seems the only thing that can stop Kyrie Irving these days is his own body.
The reining NBA Rookie of the Year, Irving has had little trouble getting by defenders but has struggled staying on the court in his two professional seasons.
In his first two years alone, Irving has missed games due to injuries to his shoulder, knee and finger while also suffering a concussion. Irving played through a broken jaw bone this season and didn't miss any game time after breaking a bone in his right hand this summer.
This all comes off of a year at Duke where he missed all but 11 of the team's games due to a freak toe injury.
While it's no doubt frustrating for Irving to go through injury after injury, it's his current employer that could really be feeling the pain from his extended absence.
With so many different injuries at such a young age, the Cavs should be worried about Irving's health moving forward, right?
I personally don't think so, and here are three reasons why:
1. Variation of injuries
If there's a silver lining to Irving's injuries, it's that they all seem to be something different.
As listed above, a simple anatomy chart of Irving's bodily woes would cover a variety of areas, but none more than once.
This means that Irving has not had any chronic or recurring injuries that seem to doom so many professional athletes. His, to this point, have all healed or are in the process of healing without any major setbacks.
This isn't a Greg Oden knee situation or a Stephen Curry ankle problem. Irving's injuries are fairly minor in the long run, and spread out over the course of his body. Had Irving injured the same shoulder multiple times over a period of a couple years, then there would be a big problem.
So far, the lack of a sustaining or reoccurring injury for Irving is a good sign.
2. Coach's faith
Byron Scott has been around Irving for nearly two years now, and wasn't phased by Irving's toe injury at Duke before the Cavs drafted him back in 2011.
Constantly interacting with and monitoring Irving's career progression, coach Scott is one of the go-to voices when discussing Kyrie's health.
He revealed his thoughts on Irving in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
He still is very young. His body hasn't fully developed. I'm just not that concerned about it, to be honest with you. All the injuries that he has gotten have been legitimate injuries. It's not something that keeps recurring over and over again. From just what I saw last night with the little hip check, it was just an unfortunate foul that hit him right on the spot. So I'm not really concerned about it.
Coach Scott went on to make a very good point, saying:
The biggest thing is this summer getting him in the weight room and getting him stronger. He'll continue to develop. Once he gets stronger and his body matures, I think he'll be fine.
Irving does play a physical style of basketball, and seeks out contact when he drives to help him get to the free throw line. Improving his physical strength in the summer will help to combat this contact and hopefully reduce the number of injuries that Irving sustains.
3. Proof that one can recover
When Cavs' fans think of a player overcoming injuries, one player typically comes to mind.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas is one of the greatest Cavaliers of all-time, but there was a time when his career was seriously in doubt.
In fact, from 1998-2001 Ilgauskas played just 29 total games in three seasons due to a plethora of foot and ankle injuries. As most NBA followers know, foot injuries to big men can absolutely ruin their careers.
Despite the odds being stacked against him, and missing the entire 1998-99 season, Big Z worked hard and came back better than ever. From 2001 to 2011, Ilgauskas played in at least 62 games every season, even eclipsing 78 games for five straight years.
Ilgauskas would eventually become the Cavaliers' all-time leader in total games played, a truly remarkable feat considering how he began his career.
Irving could use Z's career as an inspiration and not get discouraged by little injuries here and there compared to what Z had to go through.
How worried should the Cavs be about Irving's injuries?
Irving has simply had a little bad luck combined with his young body being exposed to NBA physicality early on. Keep in mind, Irving is still just 20 years old and still growing into his body.
Scott hit the nail on its head when he stated that Irving needed to hit the weight room and improve on his physical strength. For someone who drives the lane as much as Irving does, contact is going to happen. The key for Irving is to get himself into the best condition he possibly can, and he should also consider taking a good amount of time off this summer to let his body rest and heal.
At 20 years of age and with no recurring injuries to date, the Cavaliers don't need to worry about Irving just yet, and should enjoy plenty of productive and healthy seasons from him moving forward.
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