Kyrie Irving is a young superstar, there is no denying that. Those who think lesser of him are only kidding themselves. He has everything – and more – that you want in a young Point Guard. Now, that’s not to say he doesn’t have any flaws, he is human after all. Irving will undoubtedly have to change, adapt, and, in some cases, make sacrifices, but all of that will be for the betterment of the team and his own maturation process. And some of these changes and adaptations are already evident.
Most people’s argument against Irving is that he’s not a true Point Guard, and that he looks for his shot too often. However, the argument could be made that Irving has been at his best when, in fact, he’s been asked to play a little more like a true Point Guard.
The All-Star game, for example, which, of course, is just an exhibition game, but still, nevertheless, Irving was at his best when he was being unselfish, finding others, and simply taking the open shot. In that game, Irving amassed 14 assists and 31 points on just 17 attempts.
Like the All-Star game, Irving has shown throughout FIBA play that he’s capable of being supremely efficient. Thus far in the FIBA tournament, Irving has been arguably the most consistent guard on the roster, averaging 9.3 points on 52% shooting, 50% from 3, and 3.4 assists and has only committed 10 turnovers throughout the entire tournament. He has, for the most part, kept the ball moving and eliminated majority of those “selfish plays.” He’s playing within the flow of the offense and letting the game come to him, rather than always trying to make something happen. That’s not to say there haven’t been flashes of his old style of ball dominant play at times; there have been a few careless moments, but, for the most part, he seems to be taking several steps forward. That’s a good sign for fans, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Kyrie himself.
Some fans try to argue that Irving is a Two Guard in a Point Guard’s body. This is false. Irving’s skill set is everything you want in a PG. He’s got good size, a quick first step, incredible ball handling skills, the ability to finish at the rim, and, though he’s not done it consistently enough given the bad rosters he’s had around him, he has shown the the ability to make incredibly high level passes at times. The fact that he can stretch the floor and score should be looked at as positives, but, instead, fans are some how turning them into negative qualities, which is completely erroneous.
Irving, like so many other players, is at his best when playing with other great players. As evident in the ASG and now the FIBA World Cup. The argument that Irving is incapable of playing “winning basketball” is laughable at best. He’s now on a roster with two other All-Stars and a bevy of shooters surrounding him. He has everything he needs to finally show off his multitude of dazzling skills. He is, after all, one of the most skilled offensive players in the world. He’s got a ton in the toolbox, so to speak, and we’re finally going to be able to see all of it in action in David Blatt’s offense.
A common misconception people seem to have with Irving is that they think he’s going to have some problems changing and adapting into the “pure Point Guard” he “needs” to be in Blatt’s offense. Don’t get me wrong, Irving will have to make changes and adapt to his new role in Blatt’s system alongside LeBron James and Kevin Love, just not the change that many fans seem to think he will be required to make.
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Irving is very capable of becoming more of a pure Point Guard, if that is what is asked of him. As previously stated, one could make the case that he’s already been very good in that role when surrounded by equal or greater talent, but limiting himself to any one style of play would only hinder him and the team. After all, his offensive versatility is a key component of what makes him so special as a player. Instead, the change he’ll have to make is learning to play more off ball, similar to what Wade had to do in Miami. Irving’s superior outside shooting, however, should make that transition even smoother than what happened with Wade in Miami. Not to say Wade struggled by any means, simply saying that Irving’s shooting should quicken the process.
Is Kyrie Irving flawless? No. Should he have to be? Absolutely not. He is, after all, still only 22 years old. He’s going to continue to improve. He’s going to continue to get better and hone his craft. Fans all want him to be perfect, but that’s unrealistic. To quote a friend of mine, Justin Rowan (@cavsanada), whom writes for SB Nation’s Fear the Sword, “(Kyrie Irving) is a superstar Point Guard playing an imperfect game.” How can we expect him to be perfect if the game itself is not?