The beginning of Kyrie Irving's career has fascinated me. It's obvious the Cavaliers didn't have any future stars on the roster last season so throughout the whole season I was just hoping General Manager Chris Grant could find a way to acquire one for the upcoming season.
Sure enough, Donald Sterling's Los Angeles Clippers gifted us the top pick in the Draft in what was supposed to be the "worst draft in years." That label being attached to this draft is foolish so early in the days of these players actually getting a chance to prove that they can play.
Honestly though, it was easy to buy into that hype somewhat and things were even murkier because it was a bit difficult to evaluate what we could expect from Irving in his rookie year. From watching him thus far I definitely still believe he is exactly the level of player we hoped for when being awarded the top selection. I mean I don't expect him to ever win NBA MVP or anything but you know what, I am really happy with the fate that led him to Cleveland.
I've tried to watch him very closely this year thus far and I'm very excited with how well he has shot from everywhere pretty much. He has a borderline lethal outside shot and can hit the difficult midrange shots where so many people struggle since they're guarded much tighter.
I'd like to see Irving (and Boobie) become better at scoring in the paint with floaters but overall he is such a consistent shooter from all over the floor. Nearly all of the top young point guards in the league such as Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Monta Ellis, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Ricky Rubio, Deron Williams, Ty Lawson, Mike Conley, Brandon Jennings and Brandon Knight are not quite knock down shooters from behind the arc so having a point guard who can do that really is a boost to our offense.
We knew coming in to the season that Kyrie was able to get to the free throw line at a crazy rate since he did that at Duke. He hasn't kept up the rate he did there but again he has done so above average and I completely expect it to get better as he grows. I'm very impressed with his early rebounding numbers. I rate this much higher than most because if a fast guard can get the board himself and get the break going without an outlet pass you have a greater chance to score quickly.
Many now around the league are crushing on Ricky Rubio and rightly so. He, Knight and Irving will be measured against each other for many years since they were in the same rookie class. The Rookie of the Year battle in the first couple of weeks looks like a battle between Irving and Rubio and if people don't vote with their hearts at the end I think Kyrie still is going to take this thing home.
Kyrie truthfully has struggled with turning the ball over and he's done so more than most of the above players did when they were rookies although Rubio has been far more dreadful in those to date. His poise and pace have impressed me early so with these consistent minutes (well, consistently first and last 6 minutes of each half) and a lot in his hands he's going to be someone who continutes to impress. He does have a leash on his minutes because the very productive Ramon Sessions plays his position too so I really like how he has to learn to be super efficient with his minutes.
Since I'm in the viewing area of the Timberwolves I'll be seeing them often this year by default along with the Cavs so it's going to be fun to follow the development of these all around guards this season. I'll be checking back with some reports throughout the year and comparing Kyrie's development to Rubio and other rookies as the season develops. The Cavaliers aren't going to be winning the NBA Finals this summer so this is something that I'm really going to be rooting for because significant progress from Kyrie is the top thing on the court for the Cavaliers that would be best for their future.