The storyline of LeBron James going home to save the Cleveland Cavaliers is great but LeBron wouldn’t do anything that didn’t give him a chance to win championships.
If you base things purely on fame or name then the Miami Heat ‘Big 3′ would be tough to walk away from but as you look closer into the statistics from last season James’ new running mates may already be as good as the Big 3.
Tristan Thompson is a seldom mentioned player on the Cavs but his relationship with LeBron has been extremely pronounced since he was selected with the 4th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Thompson is a lefty with good range and a face up game that would remind many of a young LaMarcus Aldridge. Thompson will only grow alongside James and could step into the role that Bosh once played for the Miami Heat; you know before he became a spot up 3 point shooter.
Here’s how Thompson compared to Bosh last season:
Thompson’s rebounding and defensive statistics already rank higher than Chris Bosh’s last season and his nearly 12 points per game should go up with LeBron’s trademark unselfish style. It’s not a stretch to anticipate Tristan’s points to jump into the 17ppg range next season. Also his willingness to play from inside-out is what Bosh lost throughout the years and that burden was lumped onto LeBron James. Now Thompson will let LeBron return to his point-forward role, which he excelled at during his first stint in Cleveland.
Kyrie Irving already has an All-Star game MVP under his belt and his talent level is through the roof. He has all of the intangibles that someone looks for in a point guard while also being able to put up the scoring statistics of a shooting guard. Kyrie has yet to put together a full NBA season but last year he did play more regular season games than Dwayne Wade did in Miami. LeBron was rumored to be unhappy with his spike in minutes and Wade’s lack thereof during the season; he won’t have to worry about that with such a young core. Kyrie just turned 22 years old and LeBron’s training and offseason work ethic should rub off on him moving forward. That should help him keep healthy as he enters the prime of his career.
Here’s how Kyrie stacked up against Wade last season:
Kyrie is already a better field goal and free throw shooter than Dwayne Wade. Not to mention Kyrie is an adequate defender at the point guard position, while Wade looked lost in the NBA finals defensively. Kyrie will have less opportunities to shoot next season so he’ll have to work on improving his sub 40s field goal percentage but his nearly 35% 3 point shooting percentage should improve with LeBron drawing defenses into the lane.
The other intangible that Kyrie provides that Wade gave LeBron in Miami is the ability to take the last shot. Kyrie lives for those situations and has the upmost confidence that he can close tight games for his team.
Though it may seem like LeBron is entering Cleveland during a rebuilding process they’re actually his best chance at adding championships #3, #4,#5, etc. We haven’t even touched on #1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins who is amazing people in Las Vegas before he’s even played his first Summer League game. The Heat never offered LeBron a young talent such as Wiggins and they would’ve never drafted anywhere near the top 5 while he was there.
The Cavaliers have gotten the necessary breaks to create their own dynasty, with help from the NBA Draft lottery, and make Cleveland an immediate championship contender. Maturity and experience are the only things that will slow up this talented roster but even that will come in time. Then there’s also the possibility of bringing in Kevin Love which may speed up that process.
They won’t have the chemistry the Heat had the past few seasons and that shouldn’t be expected. They’ll have to take their lumps and grown together but their ceiling is as good as any team in the NBA and definitely in the Eastern Conference. I’d say LeBron knew exactly what he was doing when he decided to go back to Cleveland.