As the Cleveland Cavaliers season slowly approaches, it’s time to look at how the Wine & Gold currently stack up at every position. This breakdown, the first of six, looks at the point guard position.
Position: Point Guard
Starter: Kyrie Irving
Key Reserve(s): Jarrett Jack
Other Players under contract: Matthew Dellavedova, Jermaine Taylor
Heading into the 2012-2013 NBA Season, one could argue that point guard is the strongest position on the Cavaliers roster. Starting at the point is Kyrie Irving, the franchise talent and arguably one of the best point guards (and players) in the entire NBA. His backup is Jarrett Jack, the former Golden State Warriors spark plug who should provide not only be a beyond adequate sixth man, but also provide insurance for any inevitable Irving injuries.
Plus, Irving and Jack will be able to play together. When Dion Waiters struggled to gain his footing last season as a ball handler, Irving predictably had the ball in his hands far more often than not. Now, with Jack, the Cavaliers should be able to set Irving up more on set pieces, making him an even more dangerous offensive threat.
As I said above, point guard is one of the strongest positions on the roster. The Cavaliers have one of the league’s Top-10 point guards in Irving and arguably the league’s premier backup point guard in the entire NBA. It’s hard to argue with that.
My favorite part about this duo is that they can play together and play in other lineups in well. Irving is obviously going to play the bulk of the minutes, but I expect Jack to play relatively similar minutes. Part of that is because their skills will compliment each other. Irving, while incredibly potent with the ball in his hands, could prove to be very effective on set pieces. Jack can help with that while also providing energy off the bench and spelling Irving when necessary.
Offensively, this unit should provide a far amount of scoring – possibly even the highest percentage of the Cavaliers offensive output. Irving will surely score above 22 points a night, while I expect Jack to score in the low double-digits. They’ll also distribute the ball at a high level, running the pick & roll at a high level and keeping the offense running like a well oiled machine.
This is the position that is going to anchor the 2012-2013 Cleveland Cavaliers – you can take it to the bank.
On the flip side, I worry that this position could be a defense sieve. To date, Irving has been a pretty horrid defender. There’s a reason for that. Against certain teams last year, former Cavaliers coach Byron Scott would put Alonzo Gee on opposing point guards to limit their effectiveness. That could be a problem if Mike Brown decides to go that route, as several of the Cavaliers divisional opponents could exploit that weakness.
The Chicago Bulls? You can’t use someone like Gee to defend Derrick Rose because that means leaving Loul Deng alone of the wing. The Indiana Pacers? George Hill may not be on that level, but you’d rather focus your defense on Paul George and/or Danny Granger than him. To say it simply, Irving is going to need to improve as a defender.
The same goes for Jack. Coming from Golden State (not a team known for its defense) it’s likely going to be a transition for him to be playing hard on defense night in and night out.
Point guard, against most teams, is the first line of defense. The point guard is the position that has to make the decision on how to handle the pick & roll, the position who has the responsibility to make the first entry pass difficult and so on. And as fantastic as the Cavaliers point guard duo is going to be offensively, they could be just as horrible defensively. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s a huge problem.
All in all, I am very, very excited about the point guard position. I am expecting big, big things from Irving in his third season and I think Jack is going to be in contention for sixth man of the year. They will be potent offensively and keep the Cavaliers on the right path. I worry about the defense, but I expect Brown to help solve that problem early. This is the position that will carry the Cavaliers. As far as Irving, and to a lesser extent Jack, takes them is as far as they will go.