Should Injury History of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love Worry Cavs?

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BOSTON, MA - APRIL 26: Kevin Love #0 and Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers talk in the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2015 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavaliers made a valiant run to the NBA Finals last season, even though stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love both missed extended playoff time with season ending injuries. While the Cavs nearly defied the odds and delivered a title without their second and third leading scorers, it has become widely apparent that if they are to reach their ultimate goal these two stars need to be healthy.

Injuries happen. This is a fact that every team has to deal with. The Cavaliers, however, need to be confident that these injuries are not the type of reoccurring situations that can derail future title runs.

First, lets look at the case of Irving. Even before he entered the NBA, Irving was forced to deal with the injury bug. A nagging toe injury kept the then-freshman point guard out of all but 11 of Duke University’s games.

After becoming the number one overall pick by the Cavaliers, the injuries followed Irving to the pros. Since joining the league, Irving has suffered a concussion, sprained right shoulder, broken hand, broken index finger, fractured jaw, hyperextended knee, sprained left shoulder, right nasal fracture, bruised knee and finally the fractured knee cap that ended his season.

Kyrie Irving Injury History

This laundry list of injuries would have any team concerned about the long-term effects on a player’s ability to contribute. A player as vital as Irving accentuates that concern. The three-time All-Star led the team in minutes per game, and dominated the ball more than anyone on the team other than LeBron James.

The good news with Irving is that all of these incidents seem to be isolated. None of the injuries are chronic in nature. While he does have a shockingly long list of issues, he has found the ability to move on once recovered. The Cavs are optimistic that this will be the case with the broken kneecap Irving suffered in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Kevin Love’s injury history is a little more complicated. While not suffering as many injuries as Irving, Love has had some reoccurring issues throughout his career. He twice suffered a broken hand while playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Just this past season, the former All-Star was plagued with an aching back throughout much of the season.

Like Irving, Love also underwent season-ending surgery to repair his dislocated shoulder. Love is also expected to make a full recovery, and should be ready by the start of the season.

A shoulder dislocated to the extent of needing surgery is clearly a serious injury. However, the Cavaliers should be much more concerned with any lingering back issues that might follow Love through the coming seasons. Back issues are troubling for any player, but even more so for a big man who spends any time in the post with his back to the basket.

While Love did not get the touches that Irving and James did in their first season as teammates, his role in the team’s success was equally vital. A quick look at Love’s shot chart in his brief playoff exposure against the Boston Celtics shows just how versatile his game is. His ability to stretch out a defense by hitting threes or attacking them in the paint is irreplaceable, and necessary for the Cavs to have a level of offensive balance.

Kevin Love's shot chart

Both Irving and Love appear to be on track to start the 20015-16 season in top form. In Irving’s case, the team will hope he can avoid another random ailment that derails his season. As far as Love’s health is concerned, the Cavs need to have faith that his surgically-repaired shoulder is 100%, and that his back issues throughout the past season are behind him.

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A former sports editor at Gannon University, Jeff is currently a 10th-12th grade Language Arts teacher and head golf coach at Girard High School in Girard, PA. In addition to holding a love of reading and the written word, Jeff is also passionate for all things related to Cleveland, New York City and Bruce Springsteen. Writing influences include Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman.