As if Cavs' fans didn't already know, Kyrie Irving is no LeBron James. Many of the Cleveland faithful would say "I'm glad he isn't" out loud, but in truth, that isn't the case. Beyond the scouting reports, the two Cavs' top overall selections had drastically different NBA debuts.
LeBron's First Game:
25 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals and 2 turnovers in 42 minutes
Kyrie's First Game:
6 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, a steal, and a turnover in 26 minutes
One similarity is that the Cavs lost both games. James' Cavs lost to Sacramento 106-92 and Kyrie's Cavs lost to Toronto 104-96.
There is huge talent and reasonable expectations, but that may also be a blessing in disguise. The Cavs should have been wary of building their team around the strength of one guy, even one as gifted as LeBron James. Especially since losing him would turn the team into what we saw all last year and what we saw last night.
The Cavs don't ever want to be in that position again, waiting to hear if their franchise player will stay in Cleveland or leave for greener pastures. Building a core is much safer than grabbing a superstar and placing peons around him as support. If and when the superstar leaves, the peons are exposed.
Not much looked different against the Raptors on opening night when compared to last year's abysmal season. They started 0-1 after losing at home to the Toronto Raptors.
Irving looked shaky throughout as he tried to find his shot. He was two for 12 from the field, but the assists numbers were good. The team played hard, as they did for the most of last year, but they still lack the talent to win close games down the stretch. They are still void of a go-to man, something that is essential to be competitive in the NBA.
Coincidentally, Tristan Thompson was impressive. The Cavs' second lottery pick was aggressive and effective in limited minutes, scoring 14 points. Obviously, he had far less pressure on him than Irving.
Irving is the point guard and top selection, and fans must remember he only played 12 games as a freshman. He is almost the equivalent of a preps-to-pro point guard. Players that fall into that group have had limited success, so we should at least expect it to take some time before he makes a significant impact.
The key word for Cavs' fans this year will be patience. The young Cavs will struggle mightily again this year, but Irving will develop into a solid player. Thompson also looked good and he could help the Cavs trade a front court player to make room for him in the starting lineup.
Still, the return to a playoff-caliber team will take at least another year.