Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Danny Ainge says Kyrie Irving will be better playmaker in Boston

Boston Celtics Media Day

WALTHAM, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: General manager Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics speaks with the media during Boston Celtics Media Day on September 26, 2016 in Waltham, Massachusetts. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Kyrie Irving is unquestionably an All-Star, one of the biggest names in the game, and an elite scoring machine.

But is he a franchise player? Can he set up teammates and defend well enough to the best player on a title team?

Celtics head man Danny Ainge is betting big that he is.

Ainge praised Irving speaking to the media in Boston.

If you prefer the written to the video, here is the core of his comments:

“You’ll see that he’s a better passer. I think people that watch Kyrie play a lot can see his passing and his potential there as a passer. LeBron was pretty much the point guard in Cleveland and Kyrie was a point guard often when LeBron wasn’t on the court. I think that he’s a fantastic passer and I think that defensively he’s got to improve and I think he will in Brad’s system”

Certainly, if you watch a lot of Cavaliers games you see the nights Irving sets every up, and he can rack up 15-20 assists in a game without blinking. He has that in him. Just like Irving can play good defense when focused. The question is will Irving do that night in and night out, because we’ve heard his comments from him in the past about needing to just do what he does. He broke out of sets and went into isolation plenty in Cleveland. He didn’t focus on defense in the last NBA Finals, is he going to care in November and December now?

If Irving buys in, if he is willing to move the ball and be more of a playmaker — and maybe see his scoring numbers drop a little — for the betterment of the team, he can thrive in Brad Steven’s system. Stevens loves plays where a ball handler gives it up, makes a cut and gets it back, and dribble handoffs with him and Al Horford could be devastating. It’s about commitment.

The question with Irving is not does he have the talent and potential to do all this and take his game to the next level. The question is will he make that commitment night in and night out? That’s what he has to prove, and Ainge has bet he will.