It's evident to anybody who has watched the Cleveland Cavaliers this season that they'll probably suffer a dropoff with Kyrie Irving out for four weeks with a broken finger, but it could be worse than expected.
The team has already been bad, winning just two of its first 10 games, and that's with Irving. The 2011 No. 1 overall pick and Rookie of the Year leads the team with 22.9 points per game -- 8.6 higher than the second-best figure on the team -- and he also triggers the rest of the squad's offense with a team-high 5.6 assists. Conrad Kaczmarek of Cavs blog Fear The Sword delved into the stats of the team's offense with and without Irving in the lineup, and found that as bad as the injury looks on the surface, it looks significantly worse when analyzing it in detail:
Okay, so the Cavaliers currently have the 25th best offensive efficiency in the NBA with 101.3 points per 100 possessions. With Kyrie Irving on the court, they score 108.3 points per 100 possessions. With Kyrie Irving on the bench, they score 81.6 points per 100 possessions. A difference of 26.7 points per 100 possessions. THAT IS ABSURD.
For an indicator of what could happen to the Cavs, take a look at the Washington Wizards. Like Cleveland, the Wizards were expected to start a young star point guard drafted No. 1 overall in the past few seasons in John Wall, and the Wizards also have a top five pick from this year's draft starting at the off guard in Bradley Beal. With Wall in the lineup, some thought the Wizards could contend for a low playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. After he went down with a knee injury before the start of the regular season, those hopes went out the window, and the team has lost its first nine games of the season, remaining the only team in the league without a win, and holding the lowest offensive efficiency in the league.