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Monday, April 15, 2024

Ranking Kyrie Irving's 10 Greatest Teammates In His Career

Kyrie Irving, known for his remarkable handles, clutch performances, and unparalleled ability to score, has had the privilege of playing alongside some incredible talents throughout his NBA career. 

From his early days with the Cleveland Cavaliers to his stints with the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, and now the Dallas Mavericks, Irving has shared the court with numerous elite players who have influenced his game and contributed to his success. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 10 best teammates in Kyrie Irving’s career, considering their impact on the court and their chemistry with the dynamic point guard. 


1. LeBron James

Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 27.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2014-2017): NBA Championship (2016), 3x NBA All-Star (2015-2017), 3x All-NBA First Team (2015-2017)

LeBron James, often regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, formed a dynamic partnership with Kyrie Irving during their time together with the Cleveland Cavaliers. From 2014 to 2017, they orchestrated one of the most formidable tandems in NBA history, guiding the Cavaliers to multiple NBA Finals appearances and securing the franchise’s first-ever championship in 2016.

Irving’s arrival in Cleveland coincided with LeBron’s return to his hometown team in 2014. Together, they immediately established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. LeBron’s exceptional scoring, playmaking, and leadership skills, combined with Irving’s electrifying scoring ability and clutch performances, propelled the Cavaliers to new heights.

Their partnership reached its pinnacle in the 2015-2016 NBA season when they overcame a 3-1 deficit against the record-setting Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals to capture the championship. Irving’s iconic three-pointer in Game 7 sealed the victory, forever etching their names in NBA lore.

Throughout their time together, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving formed a deep bond both on and off the court. LeBron’s mentorship played a significant role in Irving’s development as a player, while Irving’s scoring prowess provided LeBron with a reliable sidekick in their quest for basketball supremacy.

Despite their on-court success, their partnership faced challenges, leading to Irving’s eventual departure from Cleveland in 2017. Nevertheless, their time together remains a defining chapter in both players’ careers, marked by incredible accomplishments and unforgettable moments that will be cherished by basketball fans for generations to come.


2. Luka Doncic

Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 28.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 9.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2022-present): 2x NBA All-Star (2023-2024), All-NBA First Team (2023)

Luka Doncic, the young Slovenian sensation, joined forces with Kyrie Irving upon Irving’s arrival to the Dallas Mavericks in February 2023. Despite their relatively short time together, Doncic has already showcased an impressive skill set that complements Irving’s game. His scoring ability, court vision, and basketball IQ have made him an invaluable asset to the Mavericks, propelling them into playoff contention in the highly competitive Western Conference.

In their first stint together last season, the Mavericks narrowly missed out on the playoffs, but their chemistry on the court was evident. This season, the Mavericks find themselves in the 7th seed in the Western Conference, poised for a postseason berth.

Luka Doncic’s individual accomplishments speak volumes about his impact on the game. With two consecutive All-Star selections and an All-NBA First Team nod in 2023, Doncic has established himself as one of the premier talents in the league. His ability to score, rebound, and facilitate makes him an ideal complement to Irving’s game, and their partnership promises to be one of the most exciting in the NBA.

While their relationship on the court is still young, the accomplishments of Luka Doncic underscore his significance as the second-best player with whom Irving has shared the court. As they continue to develop their chemistry and lead the Mavericks into playoff contention, the future looks bright for this dynamic duo, with the potential to leave a lasting mark on the NBA landscape.


3. Kevin Durant

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 27.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2019-2023): 3x NBA All-Star (2021-2023), All-NBA Second Team (2021)

Kevin Durant, widely regarded as one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, teamed up with Kyrie Irving upon Irving’s arrival to the Brooklyn Nets in 2020. Their partnership instantly created a formidable duo that posed a significant threat to opposing defenses. Durant’s elite scoring ability, coupled with Irving’s ball-handling skills, made the Nets a title contender from the outset.

Despite high expectations, the Nets faced disappointments during their playoff campaigns. In both the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 seasons, they fell short of reaching the NBA Finals, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, respectively, in the playoffs. Despite having James Harden as part of their roster during the 2020-2021 season, they were unable to secure a berth in the Conference Finals. Additionally, Durant and Irving’s partnership faced further challenges with Harden’s departure to the Philadelphia 76ers in February 2022.

While their partnership brought individual success and showcased their talents, the Nets’ inability to reach the Conference Finals during their time together underscores the complexities of building a championship team in the NBA. Nonetheless, Durant and Irving’s collaboration left an indelible mark on the Nets’ franchise and highlighted the importance of teamwork and perseverance in the pursuit of basketball excellence.


4. James Harden

Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 24.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 7.1 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2021-2022): 2x NBA All-Star (2021, 2022)

James Harden, known for his scoring prowess and playmaking ability, joined Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn after a trade from the Houston Rockets. The trio’s formation created significant buzz around the league, with many expecting them to dominate the competition.

During their playoff run in the 2020-2021 season, the Nets faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Despite their immense talent, they were eliminated in a hard-fought series, highlighting the challenges of integrating multiple superstars and the importance of team chemistry in the NBA playoffs.

Off-court tensions and a lack of cohesion ultimately led to Harden’s departure from the Nets. The pressure to succeed, combined with the clash of egos and subpar results, resulted in Harden’s swift exit from the team.

Harden’s tenure with the Nets was marked by individual success, including consecutive NBA All-Star selections in 2021 and 2022. However, his time in Brooklyn serves as a cautionary tale about the complexities of building a championship-caliber team and the delicate balance required to manage superstar personalities. While Harden’s stint with the Nets may have been short-lived, his impact on the team and the league as a whole cannot be overlooked.


5. Jayson Tatum

Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 23.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2017-2019): NBA All-Rookie First Team (2018)

Jayson Tatum formed a dynamic partnership with Kyrie Irving during their time together with the Boston Celtics from 2017 to 2019. Tatum’s arrival in Boston coincided with Irving’s tenure, and the two quickly developed a strong on-court connection.

While playing alongside Irving, Tatum showcased his scoring prowess and versatility, establishing himself as one of the league’s premier young talents. Their partnership was marked by impressive performances and memorable moments, as they led the Celtics to multiple playoff appearances and deep postseason runs.

Despite their individual achievements, including Tatum’s selection to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2018, their time together in Boston was not without its challenges. The Celtics faced tough competition in the Eastern Conference and fell short of reaching the NBA Finals during their partnership.

Off the court, reports of tension and chemistry issues surfaced, contributing to Irving’s eventual departure from the Celtics in 2019. Despite the challenges they faced, Tatum’s time playing alongside Irving played a significant role in his development as a player and helped lay the foundation for his future success in the league.

As Tatum continues to evolve into a franchise cornerstone for the Celtics, his partnership with Irving remains a pivotal chapter in his young career. While their time together may have been relatively short-lived, the impact they had on each other’s growth and the success they achieved on the court is undeniable.

Related: NBA Players Who Have Publicly Stated They Feared LeBron James


6. Kevin Love

Credit: Allison Ferrand-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 16.5 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2014-2017): NBA Championship (2016), NBA All-Star (2017)

Kevin Love teamed up with Kyrie Irving during their time together with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014 to 2017. Love’s arrival in Cleveland, alongside LeBron James and Irving, formed the “Big Three” that propelled the Cavaliers to success in the Eastern Conference.

Playing alongside Irving, Love provided valuable scoring and rebounding contributions, complementing Irving’s dynamic playmaking and scoring prowess. Together, they played integral roles in the Cavaliers’ journey to multiple NBA Finals appearances and the franchise’s first-ever championship in 2016.

During their partnership, Love earned his lone NBA All-Star selection in 2017, showcasing his impact on both ends of the floor. His ability to stretch the floor with his three-point shooting and his effectiveness in the post made him a key component of the Cavaliers’ offensive attack.

Off the court, reports of locker room tension and chemistry issues surfaced at times, reflecting the challenges of integrating multiple star players into a cohesive unit. Despite the occasional challenges, Love’s partnership with Irving contributed to some of the most successful seasons in Cavaliers history.

As Love’s career progressed beyond his time in Cleveland, his partnership with Irving remains a significant chapter in his basketball journey. Their accomplishments together, including an NBA championship, underscore the impact they had on each other’s careers and the lasting legacy they leave behind in Cleveland Cavaliers history.


7. Jaylen Brown

Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 18.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2017-2019): NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2017)

Jaylen Brown formed a formidable partnership with Kyrie Irving during their time together with the Boston Celtics from 2017 to 2019. Brown’s emergence as a key contributor coincided with Irving’s tenure in Boston, and the two played pivotal roles in the Celtics’ success in the Eastern Conference.

While playing alongside Irving, Brown showcased his versatility and tenacity on both ends of the floor, earning recognition for his defensive efforts and scoring ability. Their partnership helped the Celtics secure multiple playoff appearances and deep postseason runs, laying the foundation for future success.

Despite individual achievements, including Brown’s selection to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 2017, their time together in Boston was not without its challenges. The Celtics faced stiff competition in the Eastern Conference and fell short of reaching the NBA Finals during their partnership.

Off the court, reports of locker room tension and chemistry issues surfaced, reflecting the challenges of integrating multiple star players into a cohesive unit. Despite the occasional challenges, Brown’s partnership with Irving contributed to the growth and development of both players and left an indelible mark on Celtics history.

As Brown continues to evolve into a cornerstone player for the Celtics, his partnership with Irving remains a significant chapter in his basketball journey. Their time together, marked by both successes and challenges, helped shape Brown into the player he is today and underscores the impact they had on each other’s careers.


8. Al Horford

Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 13.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.4 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2016-2019): NBA All-Star (2018), NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2018)

Al Horford joined forces with Kyrie Irving during their time together with the Boston Celtics from 2016 to 2019. Horford’s arrival in Boston provided the team with a veteran presence and a reliable two-way player in the frontcourt.

Playing alongside Irving, Horford’s defensive abilities and leadership qualities made him an essential piece of the Celtics’ roster. His defensive impact was recognized with an NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection in 2018, showcasing his ability to anchor the defense and protect the rim.

During their partnership, Horford earned an NBA All-Star selection in 2018, further highlighting his impact on both ends of the floor. His ability to contribute offensively while anchoring the defense made him a valuable asset for the Celtics as they made deep playoff runs in the Eastern Conference.

Off the court, Horford’s professionalism and leadership were instrumental in fostering a positive team culture and locker room environment. Despite the occasional challenges and playoff disappointments, their partnership laid the groundwork for the Celtics’ future success.


9. Jarrett Allen

Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 12.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.6 SPG, 1.3 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2021): None

Jarrett Allen, a young and promising center known for his shot-blocking and rebounding abilities, briefly shared the court with Kyrie Irving during the 2020-2021 season with the Brooklyn Nets. Allen’s presence in the frontcourt provided the Nets with a reliable rim protector and a strong finisher around the basket.

Despite their limited time together, Allen’s impact alongside Irving was evident, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. His shot-blocking prowess and ability to alter opponents’ shots in the paint added a valuable dimension to the Nets’ defense.

During the 2020-2021 season, the Nets made a strong playoff push, with Allen contributing to their success in the Eastern Conference. However, their journey ultimately ended in the playoffs, as they were unable to advance past the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

While their partnership was relatively short-lived, Allen’s time playing alongside Irving provided him with valuable experience and helped further develop his skills as a young center in the league. His contributions, particularly on the defensive end, were instrumental in the Nets’ success during their playoff run.


10. Marcus Smart

Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Career Stats: 10.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Accomplishments With Irving (2017-2019): None

Marcus Smart shared the court with Kyrie Irving during their time together with the Boston Celtics from 2017 to 2019. Smart’s defensive prowess and leadership qualities made him an integral part of the Celtics’ roster, providing toughness and energy on both ends of the floor.

While playing alongside Irving, Smart’s defensive intensity and ability to make plays on the ball were invaluable assets for the Celtics. His willingness to sacrifice his body for loose balls and his knack for coming up with clutch defensive stops earned him the respect of teammates and opponents alike.

Despite their efforts, Irving and Smart were unable to lead the Celtics to significant postseason success during their partnership. The Celtics faced stiff competition in the Eastern Conference and fell short of reaching the NBA Finals, highlighting the challenges of contending for a championship in the NBA.

Off the court, Smart’s leadership and passion for the game were evident in his interactions with teammates and his commitment to the team’s success. Despite the occasional challenges and playoff disappointments, Smart’s partnership with Irving contributed to the growth and development of both players and left a lasting impact on Celtics history.

Related: 10 Greatest Pure Point Guards In NBA History

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