Kyrie Irving’s Defense Will Improve Under Celtics Coach Brad Stevens, Says Danny Ainge

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving is not a great defensive player, but the man who traded for him expects to see improvement in that area of the point guard’s game under the coaching of Brad Stevens.

“You’ll see that he’s a better passer. I think the people that watch Kyrie play a lot can see his passing and his potential there as a passer,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the team’s website.

“LeBron (James) was pretty much the point guard in Cleveland, and Kyrie was a point guard often when LeBron wasn’t on the court and so forth. I think he’s a fantastic passer, and I think that defensively he’s got to improve and I think he will in Brad’s system.”

There’s no question that Stevens is an excellent coach, one that regularly gets maximum production out of his players.

Playing with a point guard who isn’t a lockdown defender is nothing new for Stevens and the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas, who was part of the trade that sent Irving to Boston from the Cleveland Cavaliers, also was a poor defender, and the Celtics still were able to come within three victories of reaching the NBA Finals last season.

Luckily for the Celtics, other players such as Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown are excellent perimeter defenders, which will take some pressure off Irving.

Irving already is an elite offensive player, and if he can improve defensively, the Celtics will have one of the top five or seven players in the world leading the franchise.

Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images

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