The San Jose Mercury Journal’s Tim Kawakami published his annual NBA No Defense Squad earlier today for the 7th year in a row, and along with recognizing such D-phobic stars as James Harden, Monta Ellis and Gordon Hayward, Cavs PG Kyrie Irving was dubbed the Association’s No-Defense Player of the Year. Though acknowledging that Irving might not be nearly as bad as say, Jimmer Fredette, Kawakami stresses, “this is not just about pure poor footwork and vision. This award is largely about willful indifference to defense. This is about bad defense by omission. On purpose.”
Nothing kills a team (in my opinion) more than an important player who plays atrocious D just because he knows nobody will hold him accountable for it.
He has all the classic weaknesses: Irving allows himself to get bumped by every screen that comes his way and then gives up on the play if and when he does, he is lousy on the ball, he’s weak in transition D, and when he is off the ball in half-court defense, he is just as likely to lose his man for a back-door lay-up as he is to forget who actually was guarding, anyway.
I’m not sure if this adds up to him being much more than a borderline star at any point in his career. That’s how bad he is on defense.
When you’re supposed to be the NBA’s next point guard superstar and Jarrett Jack looks like a defensive stopper next to you, and Matthew Dellavedova as a rookie is so much more valuable in real terms than you…
Well, you are a deserving No-Defense Player of the Year, that’s what you are. Congratulations, Kyrie!