When you take a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers depth chart and focus in on the point guards, it's tempting to perhaps zero in on Kyrie Irving and Irving alone. He's without question the best player at the position, probably a top-5 point guard league wide and possibly the second best/most important Cavalier behind LeBron James. He's a star at 23 - he'll turn 24 in March - and in time, as LeBron ages, the Cavs will probably become Kyrie's team in some capacity.
Provided he's healthy, of course. Dating back his brief stint at Duke, Irving has a checkered injury past, even if the injuries aren't chronic injuries. To complicate matters further, Irving is coming off a fractured knee cap and he probably won't play in the season opener vs. the Chicago Bulls. This, of course, isn't ideal; the Cavs would like to be at full strength for as much of the season as possible, particularly after last year's playoff run was full on injuries to key players.
Irving, though, will be back. And while he's gone, the Cavs have the right players in Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova to hold down the position. And when Irving comes back, both Williams and Dellavedova should have no issue playing off Irving
Williams is the key to making this work. During his first stint with the Cavs, where Williams was an All-Star one season, Williams was the secondary creator and had a lot of free reign. In some of subsequent stints - most notably with the Timberwolves and Hornets - he was given more free reign because those teams were lacking play makers.
Take Williams stint with the Hornets, for instance. Charlotte's only creator was Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson was borderline useless and there were no other playmakers to be found. The result? Williams sported a usage rate of 28.8 - a number that would have been a career high over a full season - and shot 39 percent from the field. Additionally, an alarming 64.9 percent of Williams' shot were pull-up attempts last season per nba.com/stats.
The good news? Williams has historically been a good catch-and-shoot player and last year shot 41.3 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts. Just look at how smooth he operates here. As soon as he catches the ball, he gauges his space and smoothly transitions into a shot. This could become useful if he plays as a small due in certain lineups. For instance, a way to get LeBron rest could be running out a five of Irving, Williams, Iman Shumpert, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. That's not a lineup you want to use all the time, but it can probably get up and down the floor, be passable on defense and if Williams can hold his own on defense, it has enough creativity to keep the Cavs' offense from becoming overly reliant on defense.
These are shot Williams is going to take a lot of with the Cavs off Irving and LeBron. And for an even better sign: Williams posted a below career average turnover rate despite his inflated usage rate in Charlotte. With our without Irving on the floor, Williams can work off LeBron. That's a win. The only concern is that where Williams made his threes last season is almost exclusively at the top of the key. For Williams to thrive, he'll need to work on the wing and make corner threes in the areas where LeBron and Kyrie inevitably create openings.
As for Dellavedova, his story has already been written. He's really a two-guard - he's too limited as a ball handler to serve as a traditional backup point guard and per 82games.com, the most common lineups featuring Dellavedova last season featured him as the off guard - and what he was in the playoffs is the best version of himself. With Williams on the roster and presumably getting the bulk of the minutes Irving doesn't play - and remember, the Cavs have J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert at shooting guard - he's going to have to show improvement in some area of the game. Unless he drastically improves his dribbling and decision making - Delly is a good passer when he swings the ball around the floor, but when he drives, his only move to throw a lob pass - his best bet is to improve as a shooter. Even then it might be asking a lot for him to improve. Per nba.com/stats, Dellavedova 41.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes last year. With the Cavs having so many other options, there is no other shot that Dellavedova should take with regularity.
And remember this isn't just because of Irving. LeBron plays a big part in this too - last year, his presence caused Irving to take a career-high number of spot-up threes per game and he had a assist percentage of 13.6 percent higher than Irving's - and he often acts of a nominal point guard. He is LeBron after all.
But Irving and LeBron are similar in the sense that they dominate the ball. To play off of these two and be useful backup point guards, you need to be able to shoot and do little things and take advantage of space created by the Cavs' primary too creators. While Irving is out - how ever long that is - Williams and Dellavedova will need to more but not much. They can't replace his production, but they won't cause the Cavs' offense to totally struggle either.
And when Irving comes back and continues to towards full-blown stardom, Dellavedova and Williams' jobs become all the more easier.