Celtics G Kyrie Irving has nowhere to go but up

Former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving has officially been traded to the Boston Celtics after the Cavaliers held out for a second round pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

The main sentiment around the NBA is that Boston is the main winner in the trade since they were able to acquire the superstar in the deal.

However, Irving might be the biggest winner. The change in scenery could pay huge dividends for Irving on and off the basketball court.

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Photo via Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Stevens improves all guards

Interestingly enough, the best example to suggest that Irving will be an improved player in 2017 is Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas who got sent to take Irving’s old spot in Cleveland.

Until Thomas got traded to Boston, he had only averaged over 20 points per game once in his NBA career (2013/14 with the Sacramento Kings).

Disregarding Thomas’s partial first season with the Celtics (21 games), Thomas has averaged 22.2 and 28.9 points per game with Boston, a major improvement from his time in Sacramento and Phoenix.

Thomas’s rise can’t be from getting an opportunity as he would have had plenty of time to prove himself before since the Kings and Suns were nowhere close to the playoffs.

As such, there must be another reason for Thomas’s sudden explosion. Remember, drastic improvements in a players’ sixth NBA season do not just happen.

If one breaks it down, Boston coach Brad Stevens is the answer.

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Avery Bradley and Shelvin Mack

Former Celtics guard Avery Bradley saw his numbers jump immediately upon Stevens’ arrival. Bradley’s points per game increased from 9.2 to 14.9 in only 2.2 more minutes per game. It was also a genius switch by Stevens to move him to point guard.

Without a doubt, Stevens presence improved Bradley’s performance and will do that for many guards, just like he did with Jordan Crawford who averaged 5.3 points per game less next season after Crawford’s departure from Boston.

Moreover, Stevens turned Shelvin Mack into a premier guard in the country during his Butler days. He also turned Butler into a premier basketball program by making back-to-back appearances in the National Championship game in 2010 and 2011.

History tells us guards improve under Stevens. Therefore, it would be idiotic for people to believe the trend would suddenly just stop with Irving.

The former Butler coach will make sure Irving gets a few easy shots a game off inbound plays, extra passes and screens, something that he never got in Cleveland as their offense often involved Irving trying to win in one-on-one situations.

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Photo via Youtube’s Lot Channel

Irving’s business should boom

At the moment, Irving and LeBron James have the two highest selling shoes among active NBA players. Obviously, playing with James helped grow Irving’s shoe sales as national television and media coverage will follow James to endless depths.

Even Nike Brand President Trevor Edwards said that Irving’s Kyrie 3 shoes were the best-selling shoe in the market, via Forbes.

In addition, Irving “is the new face” of the market, according to Matt Powell, an analyst at market research firm NPD Group.

Nonetheless, Irving still had to play basketball in the market of Cleveland. Now, he will move to Boston which occupies close to 300,000 more people, a more advantageous market (No. 7 vs. No. 17) and a large and loyal fan base who will buy his new shoes at any chance.

If LeBron is truly on his way out, Boston will run the East when LeBron departs from or declines with the Cavaliers. Nothing will further Irving’s brand more than winning multiple Eastern Conference Finals much like LeBron has done for the majority of the last decade.

In Boston, Irving has the set up to make a historic run rather soon.

Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

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LeBron James’ ‘The Decision’ costing him the 2017 NBA Finals

Photo via Tony Dejak/AP Photo

LeBron James’ The Decision is coming up on its seven-year anniversary. On July 8, 2010, James changed the landscape of the NBA. He went on to win two NBA Championships with the Miami Heat, but that decision to head to South Beach might cost him any realistic chance of winning the 2017 NBA Finals or any in the future.

Ever since his move, super teams have become the norm. Despite what people might say, the 2010-11 Heat team was the first super team of this era. The Boston Celtics team in 2008 doesn’t count because each player was well past their prime. In Miami, Bosh and James were entering their prime. Wade would have been in the same boat, but had some unfortunate injuries to quicken the aging process.

Since James’ move, we have seen the Los Angeles Lakers try to build a super team, but the only thing super about Dwight Howard and those Lakers was Howards’ Superman nickname.

The Lakers team did not work out, however, it was another team following in James’ footsteps and perpetuating the new precedent set by James.

In 2012, the Los Angeles Clippers set out to trade for New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul. To this point their super team has not worked, yet, it still maintained the new norm.

Durant warriors.jpg
Durant and the Golden State Warriors (Photo via Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images)

In 2016, Golden State blew their 3-1 lead over the Cavaliers en route to the city of Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years. This loss gave the Warriors an excuse to build a super team. The following offseason, they replaced forward Harrison Barnes with MVP forward Kevin Durant.

Thus, building what might go down as the greatest NBA team in history (pending the conclusion of the 2017 NBA Finals).

Currently, there are just two teams in the NBA who have any realistic shot of winning a title, maybe just one after watching the first two final games. Consequently, the NBA might possess four super teams in 2018 instead of the two this season.

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Isaiah Thomas’ Celtics will try to take James’ thrown in the east (Photo via Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Celtics are looking into acquiring Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward to reunite with his former college coach Brad Stevens. Jimmy Butler and even Paul George have been thrown around, for Boston knows it is imperative to sign another star to just have the smallest chance at piercing James’ thrown in the east.

In the west, the San Antonio Spurs are interested in Chris Paul. His addition would make the Spurs into another super team further toppling any dream of parity in the league.

It is unclear on whether those alleged rumors will become true, but it speaks to where the NBA is heading. The trend is to tank until a super team can be assembled. Thanks to The Decision, it is widely accepted.

This new era will stunt James from ever winning another title. The Warriors look like they will be playing in the finals until 2020 and seem to be much better than the Cleveland team now. If James tries to improve the roster, he could go after George to add talent, however, it is unclear how much that move would actually close the gap between the two teams.

In addition, other teams in the eastern conference are going to start building their own super teams. It is to be seen whether or not one could be built before father time beats James, even so, it is hard seeing James beating Golden State unless the drastic occurs.

The eastern conference is only going to get harder to make it thru with James aging, super teams on the come-up, and it just can’t be any worse than it is now.

James had an incredible run and legacy, but it seems The Decision that helped him finally win his first title is going to stop him from progressing his legacy. One can never say never, but another LeBron title seems unlikely at this point.

Guess the NBA gods can now call it even after James ditched Cleveland for the super team in South Beach.

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