Future is Bright in Cavaliers Backcourt
By Travis Gordon
Saturday, November 10, 2012–“Killer instinct!” That’s what Daniel Gibson says the next step is in the maturation process for the young backcourt duo of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. It’s easy to see why Gibson would feel this way. The Cavaliers jumped out to an early 26-point lead Friday night vs. the Phoenix Suns, only to let the game slip away and lose 107-105.
Irving and Waiters exploited the Suns inside defense early and often to start the game, combining to start 6 of 6 from field and 4 of 4 from the FT line. In fact, Irving didn’t miss his first shot until 51 seconds remaining in the first half, while the rookie from Syracuse didn’t miss a shot until the 3rd quarter.
Too bad the game didn’t end there.
The Suns would rally late in the game to spoil what was another example of the dominating potential the tandem possesses. The frustration was noticeable for each player after letting such a big lead slip away, but that’s the nature of the beast for young guards in the NBA.
For Coach Byron Scott’s sake, he’s hoping this is more of the exception than the norm when it comes to relinquishing massive leads, but he without a doubt has to be pleased with his new toys.
Irving would finish with 17 points, 8 assists and 4 boards with Waiters tallying 23 points and 2 assists.
In the past, the former Duke product had to carry the Cavs in scoring to give the team its best chance to win. Waiters is more than a capable scorer, but it’s his ability to initiate the offense with Irving off the ball that makes them dangerous.
Waiters’ screen and roll ability allows Irving, a natural scorer, to not only slide into more of a scoring role, but it also provides the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year with a much need break from time to time without a drop off in production.
Over the last four games, including vs. the Suns, Irving is averaging 24 PPG to Waiter’s 19 PPG. However, despite the offensive production from the two, the Cavs have been able to only muster one victory during the four game stretch.
It should also be noted each is shooting over 43% from downtown for the season, with Irving shooting at a 43% clip compared to Waiters 53% 3-point shooting.
A youthful backcourt hasn’t been this exciting since Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson were together in Dallas.
Not since Bob McAdoo and Ernie DiGregorio played for the Buffalo Braves has a franchise had two players win back-to-back Rookie of the Year awards. It’s very conceivable the Cavaliers duo could accomplish the feat and bring the excitement back to the city of Cleveland had in the LeBron James days.