The NBA world went into a meltdown on Tuesday, as the Cleveland Cavaliers finally dealt their superstar point guard Kyrie Irving in an epic deal with their Eastern Conference rival Boston Celtics. The Celtics sent the former world champions scoring machine Isaiah Thomas, wing defender Jae Crowder, young center Ante Zizic and a first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft.
It was a massive deal for both teams, and one very few NBA fans or experts saw coming. The Cavaliers were well compensated in letting their dynamic point guard leave Northeast Ohio, as they got a nice blend of “win now” players and youthful prospects to keep the franchise in good stead moving forward.
With emotions still running high and fans still trying to figure out how to feel about the whole situation, it’s important to analyze who benefited more from the mega deal. The general consensus around the league and NBA community is that Irving is the superior player to Thomas, and as he’s much younger, trading for him required all the assets the Cavs received in exchange. This becomes extremely interesting when factoring in that Thomas finished in fifth place in MVP voting last season and led the league in fourth-quarter scoring.
It’s particularly fascinating when we look at their head-to-head matchups against each other. Irving may be seen as the superior player in most people’s eyes, but it may in fact be closer than everyone thinks.
Kyrie vs Isaiah Head-to-Head All-time
Kyrie: 19.1 ppg, 5.2 apg, 2.8 rpg, 44% FG, 7 wins
Isaiah: 20.2 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.9 rpg, 44% FG 6 wins
— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) August 23, 2017
As you can see, the numbers tell a different story to what many NBA fans may think. Thomas more than holds his own and his numbers are quite impressive in a Celtics system largely based upon ball movement and unselfish basketball.
With the Cavaliers also acquiring former league MVP Derrick Rose and a veteran presence in Jose Calderon this offseason, all of a sudden the Wine and Gold is stacked at the point guard position. That’s not to mention promising youngster Kay Felder also in the mix as well (although he is likely to get cut in favor of Cleveland’s recent additions). With the arrivals of Thomas, Crowder and Zizic, it’s likely the Cavs aren’t done making moves to finalize their roster before training camp begins next month.
It will be a very different feel when the cavalry arrives for its first session, but the big moves have given Cavs fans a sense of belief and excitement ahead of the new campaign. One thing is for sure, they aren’t giving up their dream of lifting another championship trophy in Northeast Ohio.