Cleveland Cavaliers: Assembling their all-time starting five

LeBron James, then of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reacts after a made basket in-game. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LeBron James, then of the Cleveland Cavaliers, reacts after a made basket in-game. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving handles the ball. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The all-time Cavs starting PG: Kyrie Irving

For my all-time Cavs starting point guard, I’m going with Kyrie Irving. It was admittedly, a really tough choice to pass up Mark Price here, who was a four-time All-Star for Cleveland that also was All-NBA four times.

Price was a tremendous pick-and-roll operator, with Brad Daugherty as the screener, in particular, and Price was so quick, and was a much better passer than Irving, in terms of vision and willingness, as evidenced by his 7.2 helpers per game in his nine seasons with the Cavs. Price was also a career 90.4 percent free throw shooter and a 40.2 percent lifetime three-point shooter, as noted by Basketball Reference.

To me, though, factoring in other players to come in this list for me, I’m going with the clutch and overall bucket-getting cheat code in Irving here.

We all remember Irving’s shot to essentially put the Cavs in the driver’s seat to take home their only championship with under a minute left to defeat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in 2016, where Irving, LeBron and the Cavs became the only squad in league history to overcome a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit.

Related Story. Cavs: Kyrie Irving's shot vs. Warriors in 2016 is best one in NBA Finals history. light

Irving proved himself to be a clutch bucket-getter throughout his tenure with the Cavaliers, too, and even before James’ return to the team before the 2014-15 season, and that sense is a huge key to me here.

Irving’s gravity as a player with arguably the best handle in NBA history also plays into this choice here, and while Price and Terrell Brandon (when he wasn’t dealing with leg problems) could get their share of separation and penetration, too, no other Cav has had nearly the handle of Irving’s in their history.

Irving’s ability, when healthy, to generate so much space, with his combination of quickness, in-n-out dribble, hesitation, spinning and side step acumen is still breath-taking whenever I see it, even in his time now when healthy.

It was unfortunate that he ultimately requested a trade out of Cleveland before the 2017-18 season, and then was dealt to the Boston Celtics and is now a Brooklyn Net, but I’ll still be forever grateful for Uncle Drew, who made four All-Star teams as a Cav and has made six in total.

In his time with the Cavs, which was six seasons, Irving had 21.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest, and while three-pointers have been much more of a focus for Irving than in Price’s time, Irving did still hit 38.3 percent from deep with the Cavs. Along with that, he hit 87.3 percent from the free throw line.

I went with a killer at the 1 in Irving here, who still is more than capable of hitting spray-outs to shooters and dump-offs to bigs/cutters, too, as he’s still had a respectable assist rate of 5.7 helpers per contest in his career. Plus, at least defensively, when he’s locked in, he does have good feel in playing passing lanes when he has help on the wings, as shown by his 1.3 steals per game, and I prefer Irving’s 6-foot-2 size a bit over Price’s, who was listed at 6-foot.

Most notably, though, Irving is one of the better late clock shot creators in recent memory that’s the ultimate bail-out option for me here and would constantly put fear in opposing defenses with his handle and scoring gravity.