NBA PM: Kyrie Irving Living Up to Hype
Kyrie Irving has only played 23 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers and he’s already receiving consideration as an All-Star reserve. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, considering he solidified himself as the top overall pick in this year’s draft after playing just 11 games at Duke University.
It doesn’t take very long to see that Irving is a special player.
In NBA history, only five players – Steve Nash, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller and Dirk Nowitzki – have ever finished a season shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. This is known as the 50-40-90 club.
Right now, Irving is shooting 49 percent from the field, 41 percent from three and 83 percent from the charity stripe. At 19 years old, he’s just a few percentage points away from joining one of the game’s most exclusive groups.
While Irving’s shooting has been phenomenal, he is also a top-notch distributor. He has excellent court vision and makes the players around him better. He is currently averaging 5.1 assists, a number that will continue to increase over Irving’s career. There are many instances when Irving throws a perfect pass, but one of his teammates drops the ball or misses the shot.
Irving isn’t an athletic freak, breaking the mold of recent point guards selected top overall such as Derrick Rose and John Wall, but his game is extremely well-rounded and he’s a great decision maker. Opposing head coaches who watch him play often come away stunned. Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy recently raved about Irving’s game.
“Oh my God,” Van Gundy said when asked about Irving. “I see no reason he wouldn’t be at the same level as the Chris Pauls and the Derrick Roses and those guys. He’s got size, he’s quick, he takes the ball to the basket, he makes good decisions, he’s shooting over 40 percent from three, and he defends. Even now, he’s in the top seven or eight point guards in the league and that’s being conservative. He’s outstanding. I was a little bit astounded. He is very, very good and I don’t say that much about rookies. He’s the real deal.”
Not only is Irving experiencing individual success, he has the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoff hunt. After winning just 19 games last season and suffering through a record 26-game losing streak, the Cavaliers are 9-14 and just a half game out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland has had big wins against the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.
As a teenager, Irving has made an immediate impact in Cleveland and has the Cavaliers battling for a playoff spot. As he further develops his game and gets comfortable, he’ll only continue to get better, which is scary for the rest of the league.
Rising Star Challenge Pool Announced: This year, the NBA is introducing the Rising Stars Challenge. Rather than having a game that features rookies versus sophomores, the league has decided to try a new format. For the first time, rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams.
The sophomore class includes Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Landry Fields (New York Knicks), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Evan Turner (Philadelphia 76ers), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).
The freshman class includes Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves), MarShon Brooks (New Jersey Nets), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kemba Walker (Charlotte Bobcats), and Derrick Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves).
The participants in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge were selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot.
TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will serve as the general managers of the two opposing teams – Team Chuck and Team Shaq – each with nine man rosters, drafted from the aforementioned pool. TNT’s Kenny Smith will serve as the honorary Commissioner and Ernie Johnson will host the live BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Draft on Thursday, Feb. 16, on NBA TV at 7 p.m. ET.
Fellow TNT analysts Mike Fratello and Steve Kerr will be part of the coaching staffs for the teams, with Fratello joining Team Chuck and Kerr joining Team Shaq. The head coaches for both teams will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2012 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs. The East and West coaching staffs will be determined by the best record in each conference through games played Feb. 15.
Chandler and Brooks May Be Stuck: This is a must-read article by our very own Larry Coon. Because Wilson Chandler and Aaron Brooks are restricted free agents, they may not have many options when they return from China.
Under normal circumstances a restricted free agent can sign an offer sheet with the team of his choice, and the player’s prior team is given the opportunity to retain the player by matching the principal terms of the offer. If the team fails to match the offer (the time limit is three days), the offer sheet becomes a contract with the new team.
But restricted free agents can’t sign offer sheets after March 1 of any season, and this season is no exception. So Brooks and Chandler likely won’t be eligible to return to the NBA until after their eligibility to sign an offer sheet expires.
Both Chandler’s Zhejiang Guangsha and Brooks’ Guangdong Hongyuan appear poised to make deep playoff runs, which means neither player is likely to return to NBA before the March 1 deadline for signing an offer sheet. If Chandler wants to play in the NBA after March 1, his only option will be to return to the Denver Nuggets. Likewise with Brooks and the Phoenix Suns.
Chandler’s camp understands this and hopes to sign a long-term contract with the Nuggets. If the two sides can’t work out a deal, Chandler is prepared to sit out the remainder of the season and test free agency in July. He would still be a restricted free agent, but he would be able to sign an offer sheet and more teams would have money to throw around.
NBA Chats:NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats on the schedule today. Larry Coon hosted his weekly chat earlier today. Next up, Lang Greene will be hosting his weekly chat at 8 p.m. ET. Submit Lang a question here. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats. If you are looking for a chat that is already completed, try here: Previous NBA Chats