Today’s links and quotes are all dedicated to Kyrie Irving.
A. Sherrod Blakely predicts that he’ll be a top 5 MVP candidate.
Every year it seems there’s a new face to the top-5 mix, often it being a high-scoring guard. We saw it with Isaiah Thomas a couple years ago, and we’ll see it again this year with Kyrie Irving. The scoring he’s done since he came into the league, is still there. But Irving’s impact on the game goes beyond just getting buckets now.
Michael Pina has him 8th on his list.
Pros: Apart from being the world’s most dazzling bucket getter, Kyrie Irving is also, at present time, its most clutch. (What he did down the stretch on Christmas is not normal, especially against A+ Jimmy Butler effort.) Irving’s defense is better. His passing is better. He sacrifices his body, and is the offensive focal point on a title contender. When he sits, the Celtics can’t score. When he plays, they’re dominant.
Cons: The Celtics are the NBA’s least consistent title contender, and as their best player and only All-Star lock, Irving deserves some (i.e. very little) criticism for that volatility.
SBNation’s Zito Madu makes the case that mere numbers can’t describe Kyrie.
Few players embrace the spotlight and pressure like Irving does. He’s a walking sports drink commercial, complete with all the clichés about rising to the occasion and proving yourself in the most pivotal moments.
Irving often makes difficult shots and comes up big in pressure moments, but it’s his style in doing those things that makes him particularly entertaining. Irving is enchanting in the way he tries numerous crossovers, drives, keeps the ball bouncing while slipping, and then shoots a turnaround jumper over an extended arm.
Steven Bulpett makes the case that Irving has been doing more than scoring.
Even as he’s exploded offensively of late, it’s impossible not to notice that Kyrie Irving‘s defensive measurables are up nearly across the board. He’s 18th in the NBA in charges drawn (just ahead of Celtic mate Marcus Smart and just behind Aron Baynes), and his 102.8 defensive rating, best of his career, has him ahead of such people as Rajon Rondo.
Finally, don’t forget to get your own Untucked Kyrie shirt here.