Is Kyrie Irving going to be the 8th best player in the NBA this season? I'm not sure, but that's what ESPN.com's #NBARank decided. In their ongoing countdown of every player in the league, the ESPN.com panel of voters gave the Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar point guard an average rating of 8.69, good for 8th in the league. The ranking places Kyrie ahead of Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, Deron Williams, and Rajon Rondo. It means that Irving is the 4th ranked point guard on the list after Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Stephen Curry.
It's important to remember that this is a projection for the 2013-14 season. This is not to say that Irving is already the 8th best player in the league based on what he has done thus far, but rather that people expect him to get even better. Personally, I was pretty shocked that ESPN had Irving in their top-10, but I'll take it. You know that you won't find anybody higher on Irving than me and I'm excited to see a Cleveland athlete get that kind of respect in front of a massive audience.
Irving jumped from #22 in their rankings last year to #8 this year, which means they expect him to leapfrog some pretty damn good basketball players. Of course, Irving has all the potential in the world and seems to be working harder this offseason than ever before. A fun thing to remember about Kyrie Irving is that he's only 21 years old. It kind of feels like he's been around for a while now, but he's entering his third season and can barely purchase alcohol.
Does this ranking overrate Kyrie? It's possible. People will cite the fact that his team has "never" won since he's been in the NBA, but so much of that has to do with a team that was actively tanking that it's a little unfair to put that all on Kyrie. His defense has to improve, but they said the same thing about Rose and Curry after their first few seasons. Once the Cavs' team improves, starts winning, and Mike Brown has them play solid defense, those criticisms will go away.
Three years ago, the Cavs lost the best player in the NBA. Now, they already have a player who is considered one of the 10 best players in the league. You've gotta feel pretty good about that if you're a Cavs fan.