The Home of Fantasy Sports Analysis

Kyrie Irving Trade Breakdown

Our weekly sleeper article takes a break this week with the news of the Kyrie Irving trade breaking last night. The trade will have a massive effect on the NBA as well as the fantasy outlook for both teams involved. The Cavaliers traded Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick. We’ll take a look at the trade from both angles, starting with how it will affect both teams on the floor and into the future.

The 2017-2018 Season

While the Cavaliers traded the best player in the deal, they may have increased their title chances for the upcoming season. They now have a competent stopper at forward to help LeBron James slow down Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. Jae Crowder is an elite defender who, at the very least, should defend Durant better than Richard Jefferson could in the most recent NBA Finals. Thomas is a downgrade from Irving, but he should be able to fill the same role and provide more passing ability than Irving did. The main concern for the Cavaliers is that Golden State will put Thomas in the PnR to get him matched up with Durant or Steph Curry.

[the_ad id=”384″]As for the Celtics, they may have given themselves a better chance at dethroning the Cavaliers, but it likely won’t mean much. Adding Irving gives the Celtics one of the best offensive players in the league, even though he’s a major liability defensively. He should replace all of Thomas’ production and then some, while being less of a disaster on defense.

Losing Crowder will hurt the Celtics this season, as neither Jaylen Brown nor Jayson Tatum is the same level of defender he is. Crowder was essentially the only “LeBron stopper” the Celtics had, and now they will have to place that role in Gordon Hayward’s hands. They should be able to push the Cavaliers to six games in a series, a slight improvement from last season.

The Future

The Cavaliers were put in a difficult spot when Irving requested a trade last month. They essentially had their two best players’ futures in doubt, with James not committing to a future in Cleveland past this season. With that said, they did a great job of preparing for all possible outcomes with this trade. If James leaves, they now have a potential top-three pick to help build toward the future and a great asset in Jae Crowder on a cheap contract. They would also be able to move Kevin Love for younger talent in what would be an accelerated rebuild after James, and presumably Thomas, walk. If he decides to stay, they can retain Thomas using his bird rights and use the Nets’ pick to acquire another superstar next offseason.

The Celtics’ plan is definitely less hazy than it was a week ago. They’re now in a position where they will continue to build around Irving and Hayward as their two star players. That’s a good position to be in, and even better when you realize they still have the Lakers/Kings pick that they acquired from the 76ers. However, if that pick doesn’t net a superstar, things get murky again. The Celtics will be relying on Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown to become a superstar. Brown looks to be on the trajectory of a good three-and-D player, but that isn’t a superstar. Tatum, on the other hand, is someone I’ve never seen superstar potential in, and seems more like a potential starter than anything else.

Fantasy Impact

The fantasy impact of this trade should be fairly drastic one, especially for the two headliners of the deal. From the Celtics’ point of view, I’d expect an increase in fantasy value from Irving. He will have the chance to be the primary offensive option in Boston, and his fantasy owners will benefit. Irving should experience an increase in assists given the nature of the Celtics’ offense.

With Crowder departing, Jaylen Brown should see an increase in minutes on the wing, as the starting two, and now as the primary backup at the three and four. That should net him a small increase in his counting stats, especially if he can improve from beyond the arc. Another surprise beneficiary could end up being Marcus Morris. Morris will be the Celtics’ best option at the four and should see 30 or more minutes per night. He should be an excellent source of rebounding, while also being the team’s second best post scorer.

The Cavaliers’ fantasy outlook may be a bit more negative than the Celtics’ outlook. Isaiah Thomas will take a hit, as he is now the secondary option on his team, rather than the primary option. He should take a hit across the board, with the only increase being his threes made. With the best facilitator on the planet by his side, he should see more open attempts from deep. James and Kevin Love may actually see a dip in fantasy value as well. With James getting older, the Cavaliers may look to limit his minutes in the regular season, and they now have a formidable backup to do just that in Crowder.

As for Love, Crowder should also be able to spell him as a backup, although seeing Love play more minutes at the five this season wouldn’t be a surprise. Crowder should retain most of his value, although a slight dip can be expected. He should still see almost 30 minutes per night, with a rapid increase on nights that James does not play.

Be sure to come back next week when we resume our fantasy sleepers series with the Pacific Division.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.