Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Kyrie Irving is out with a hairline fracture in his left hand. Paul Flannery takes a look at what's next for Irving and the Cavs.
Whatever optimism the Cavaliers generated in the preseason is basically gone now. Kyrie Irving will be out four weeks with a non-displaced hairline fracture of his left hand and let's not sugarcoat things: this is horrible news for the Cavaliers. The second-year guard is one of the few bright spots on an otherwise overmatched roster.
When he's on the court the Cavs are scoring 108.3 points per 100 possessions, per baskteball-reference, and when Irving is on the bench, the Cavs generate just 81.6 points per 100 possessions. Irving is basically the whole show for Cleveland and now it's on hiatus.
The good news, sort of, is that there is no surgery planned and the team said his injury would be treated with tape and a splint. Irving broke his right hand in July after smacking a padded wall in frustration and while it's tempting to suggest the 20-year-old is injury prone, it's more likely that he's simply unlucky.
Irving's injury should allow rookie Dion Waiters more of an opportunity to run the team's offense. Despite ranking third among rookies with at 13.7 points per game and shooting 43 percent shooting from behind the arc, the Syracuse product has had a typically rough introduction to the league. He's struggled to score inside -- making just 44 percent of his attempts at the rim -- and hasn't been a model of efficiency when not shooting long-range jumpers. The short-term results may be ugly, but Waiters can use all the reps he can get and it's not like the Cavs have a choice as he's really the only other playmaking guard on the roster.
Even with Irving, the Cavs' 2-8 record is indicative of a team with major work ahead of it before it climbs out of its post-LeBron hole. That road just got a lot more difficult.