Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was just named one of the Eastern Conference's starting guards in next month's All-Star game in New Orleans. It will be Irving's second All-Star game, a feat all the more impressive given his age: the star is still only 21 years old. Cleveland fans aren't universal in their praise and excitement for the third year Duke product.
It makes sense. It was fun seeing Irving get attention and praise last season in an otherwise dreary season. This year? The Cavaliers are still playing bad basketball, and Kyrie Irving hasn't appeared to take the third year leap that many expected. And truth be told, a lot of the criticism stems to the end of last season, when Irving came back from his first All-Star weekend experience and played poorly. He skipped out on fan appreciation night and passed on a chance to defend Byron Scott amid rumors of his possible firing. We wrote about it here.
The criticism was given more credibility by Cavs beat writer Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal tonight.
Holy crap. Lloyd really did nuke the kid.— Ryan Mourton (@Ryan_Mourton) January 26, 2014
I don't know if it was that bad. But it was bad. Go read the whole thing, but here are some relevant samples.
Lloyd talks at length about Kyrie's struggles defending mediocre point guards. He doesn't really mention the team defense or the defensive system to give context to the criticism.
In Irving's last 20 games he is averaging 23 points and 7 assists per game on 47/43/89 shooting. His turnover rate has decreased dramatically since his rookie season. After getting off to an awful start shooting the ball this season, he has rebounded and his offense is better than ever. His defense? Not great. But I don't think it's in the neighborhood of what people suggest it is.
My take: this article doesn't get written if Kyrie makes more jumpers in November. He didn't, and the consternation among fans and now the media that started building last spring has reached this point. What do you guys think?