There’s a non-zero chance Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving end up on the same team a year from now. How good would they be together?
Back in July, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving were looking to potentially take over the Eastern Conference by teaming up.
Now, Butler has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and it probably isn’t pure coincidence that his preferred destinations — the Nets, Knicks, and Clippers — all have avenues to open up cap space and fit in Kyrie next summer after any Butler trade would happen.
Let’s say those two do figure it out and end up as star teammates next season. Just how good could a Kyrie Irving/Jimmy Butler backcourt be? A lot would obviously depend on the other players on their team, but let’s just focus on Kyrie and Jimmy for now.
Both players are guards who do a good amount of scoring, so the offense probably would work well. Defenses would struggle to guard them both in crunch time, seeing as either can get a bucket even if their defender does a pretty good job. But could they play together?
Even though Irving and Butler can both score for themselves, they both present a legitimate threat as a catch-and-shoot player too. More than 75 percent of Butler’s threes were assisted last season, while some 53 percent of Irving’s treys came via the assist. That’s hundreds of threes coming on assists, which bodes well for the pairing offensively.
On the defensive end, a Kyrie and Jimmy backcourt would probably function much like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson do. Let Jimmy take the better scoring threat like Thompson does, and hide Kyrie on whoever is left. Other teams can attack with switches, and that’s fine — Kyrie isn’t a great defender, but he’s not Isaiah Thomas on that end.
Their “superteam” would be less balanced than most, but the pre-Kevin Durant Warriors and current Houston Rockets provide examples of how great a team can be with guards as its two best players. More than anything else, health could be the determining factor in determining a Kyrie/Jimmy team’s ceiling.
Those two both missed more than 20 games last season, with Kyrie suiting up for 60 regular season games and Jimmy playing in just 59 of them. Their team could probably survive with just one of them, but both stars missing time would be tough considering how much of the salary cap they’d take up together.
If Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving really do end up teaming up, the results should be exciting. Those two are both incredibly fun to watch, and they would be must-see basketball, especially in crunch time.
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