Kyrie Irving was having the healthiest season of his career before a late-season tweak to his knee and tendinitis slowed him down in the NBA playoffs. When he finally fractured his kneecap in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, it felt like a crushing blow. Much has been written about Irving's propensity for injury, but it was the first one that required a major surgery. The Cavs won two games in the Finals, but LeBron James was left without any help in terms of offensive creation.
Fast forward to media day, and Irving knows he needs to be on the court in May and June if the Cavs are going to win a title. He is actively working on ways to be ready, and that might involve changing his game:
"It's how can I be better in terms of avoiding injuries going to the basket and falling on the floor. I enjoy finishing around the big men, but honestly I'm trying to stay off the floor. I'm trying to get better in that aspect.
I'm not going to stop trying to get to the basket. I don't want to stay away, but in terms of going in there every single time -- especially with the centers and power forwards we have -- I don't have to do it every single time."
There's a fine line here. If Irving switches out attacking the basket for midrange jumpers, his efficiency will suffer. If it means more three pointers, he will probably be fine. Perhaps he models Steph Curry. Kyrie's game is predicated in part on using his dribbling skills to get him to advantageous spots on the court. If he limits that, he limits his game. The flip side of that is his availability is a prerequisite to all of that.
The best news is that Kyrie said he's been running. He'll still be a bit limited early on, but all indications are that he is progressing nicely.