Kyrie Irving won the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year and put up some historical numbers. Prior to his fractured finger, Irving was second in the NBA in PER among point guards, just after Chris Paul. Despite what he has done in his short NBA career, Kyrie still has some doubters. Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated defended his omission of Kyrie on his list of elite point guards in a recent article. See what he had to say.
Let's review my list, and then I'll try to explain why Irving does not (yet) belong with these accomplished players:
1. Rajon Rondo
2. Chris Paul
3. Tony Parker
4. Russell Westbrook
5. Deron Williams
6. Steve Nash
7. Jason Kidd
8. Andre Miller
Honorable mention: Derrick Rose (injured)
Irving will miss the next four weeks with a fractured finger, but he is going to be on this list sooner than later. Maybe he'll make it this spring or next season; maybe someday he'll be at the top.
Wait, Rondo ahead of Chris Paul? Uh...okay. Wait, Andre Miller and Jason Kidd ahead of Kyrie? In 2012? What?
The whole point of my list was to define point guard as a position of leadership that should be held to the same ultimate standard as the MVP. A point guard should be held accountable for wins and losses. It's like being a quarterback in the NFL. Think about all of the highly talented young QBs who have been unable to fulfill their potential. They can make highlight plays, but they can't provide the necessary leadership to win games.
Am I saying Irving is the next Michael Vick? No, I'm not saying that. I think Irving is going to be a great player. But let's give him the time to prove it.
So, a point guard is like a quarterback? That's a relatively flawed argument to begin with because a quarterback only plays offense. And if you want your point guard to lead a great offense, doesn't that mean Rondo is immediately disqualified? Doesn't that mean Mario Chalmers should be on the list for being the quarterback of the Miami Heat's league-best offense? Doesn't that mean that having Andre Miller or Jason Kidd on your list the equivalent of having Tim Tebow on your list since Miller is merely Ty Lawson's backup and Kidd plays shooting guard while Raymond Felton plays point?
The nine point guards on my list are highly accomplished. They've achieved a lot for their teams over the years. They know how to exert their talent to help teammates win games, and they do it in different ways. One thing they all have in common is that they're winners.
I think the difference between your opinions and mine is that we're discussing two different lists. You are rating the position by talent. I am rating point guards by their achievements on behalf of their teams, which is the ultimate standard for any quarterback who has earned the opportunity to lead his franchise.
Okay, so this is a life-time achievement list? Then why isn't Steve Nash ahead of everybody else? If this is just based on the achievement of their teams, shouldn't Derek Fisher be on this list. After all, COUNT THE RINGZ.
All of these players are winners? How do you explain Deron Williams' losing record over the past two seasons?
Can't we let these guys earn it on the floor before we tell them they're the greatest? There is a big difference between being a great talent and being a great player. The nine point guards on my list understand the difference because they went through that transition and turned their talent into successful leadership.
So the thing that Kyrie is missing is "successful leadership"? And the reason that the Cavaliers are losing is because Kyrie isn't successfully leading his teammates? Just like Steve Nash successfully led his teammates to missing the playoffs last season? How is Kyrie's leadership supposed to make C.J. Miles not shoot 20% from the field? The Cavaliers play just fine when Kyrie is on the floor, but they collapse when he comes off it -- how is that his fault?
Irving is just beginning to make that transition. I'm convinced he's going to succeed. In the meantime, I just can't see how a 20-year-old who has yet to celebrate his 20th NBA win can be rated as superior to Jason Kidd.
So, Thomsen likes Kyrie Irving. He believes he will succeed, he just needs to see more than 60 games in the NBA.That line of thinking is certainly fair, but the list is compiled using a confusing and inconsistent set of criteria. And no matter what you're using to make your list -- Jason Kidd is not better than Kyrie Irving in the year 2012. He's just not.