Kyrie Irving: 7 Signs Cleveland Cavaliers' Rookie Is Destined to Be an NBA Star
Only four games into his professional career, Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving has already experienced his share of highs and lows.
Coming out flat in a loss to the Toronto Raptors on opening night in which Irving scored just six points, many were quick to doubt if the Cavaliers had taken the right player first overall in June's draft.
Now with a few more games under his belt and a couple early season wins, a more accurate picture can be taken of Irving's future career, one that would seem to be impeccably bright.
It's still early, but here are seven reasons I believe Kyrie Irving is destined to be a star in the NBA for years to come.
Reason No. 1: He Shows No Fear
Despite being thrown into the starting lineup from game one and asked to revive a basketball team that was previously on life support, Irving has yet to bat an eyelash.
The 19-year-old rookie has been nothing but calm and cool while taking control of Cleveland's first team offense, not shying away from taking the big shot or driving to the hoop when his team needs a bucket.
As Kevin Hetrick of Cavs: The Blog so perfectly captured it when referring to the Indiana game:
"In the final 2:30 of the game, Irving took the ball to the basket on five of six possessions. Really the results weren’t great; he made a layup, got tied up once (the Cavs lost the jump ball), he got fouled and missed one of two, he missed a tough pull-up from 5 feet, then he missed a layup for the win at the buzzer. But the results weren’t the point; Irving is 19 years old, in his third NBA game (after only 12 NCAA games). In the fourth quarter of a close game against a good defensive team, he wanted the ball in his hands every possession. And he got to the basket for good looks on four of five possessions. Someday soon; Irving is going to make both free throws, make that 5 ft pull up, or make that layup…and the Cavs win the game."
I completely agree. Kyrie Irving shouldn't necessarily be winning games for them right now. What's important is that he looks for the opportunity to do so, and gets his mistakes out of the way now so as to learn from them in future years when the Cavs are playing meaningful games in April, and not just in January.
Reason No. 2: A Desire to Be Great
In the pregame interviews before the Cavaliers game against the New Jersey Nets, coach Byron Scott talked about Kyrie Irving and his attitude towards facing the Nets' star guard, Deron Williams.
He mentioned the fact that when he was coaching the New Orleans Hornets how Chris Paul always looked forward to taking on the games other greats as a way of making himself a better player. He said Paul never shied away from taking on huge challenges like this from other stars, and that's one of the reasons Paul became the player he is today.
This is the same trait Scott said that Irving already possesses. With just three games under his belt, Irving was looking forward to matching up with Williams, a seven year NBA veteran.
Irving wants to be great, and that's not something you always see from high draft picks who often feel they deserve to be handed everything.
Reason No. 3: A Multi-Dimensional Game
The knock on Irving coming out of college was his lack of experience at the college level.
This was partially due to the fact that he only played 11 games, but I like to think also because, well, there wasn't much else to knock.
Irving has shown the ability to drive, shoot threes, dish, play good defense and get his teammates involved. Even his rebounding (4.0 a game) has been better than expected.
His game to this point has no major flaws. Obviously everything will improve with time and practice, but there aren't any major weaknesses that opponents can center around. Irving can beat you off the dribble, knock down a jump shot or find an a teammate with one of his precision passes.
He's pretty good from the free throw line as well, hitting on better than 90 percent during his time in college.
Reason No. 4: Maturity
One of the reasons Irving stood out to teams despite his obvious talent is his maturity level and the way he carries himself despite being only 19 years old.
On court talent is nice, but an athlete can do a lot of things to derail their careers with off-the-court situations and temptations.
Obviously Irving is still human, but he doesn't seem to carry the same egotistical me-first attitude and glamorous lifestyle that could get in the way of his on court development as his career blossoms.
He's very well spoken and seems to be in basketball for all the right reasons.
Reason No. 5: Opportunity
Even with all the skills in the world, you still need an opportunity to prove yourself, just ask Aaron Rodgers.
Kyrie Irving was given that opportunity the day the Cavaliers decided to amnesty Baron Davis.
In addition to securing a starting role to showcase his skills, it appears Irving will have a nice, young team around him to help him grow. Fellow young players like Tristan Thompson, Alonzo Gee and Ramon Sessions are already off to nice starts for Cleveland, and Irving can always turn to veterans like Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker and Anderson Varejao for advice and guidance.
Irving will be given every opportunity to succeed in Cleveland, and we should expect him to take full advantage.
Reason No. 6: Coaching
It's well documented that Byron Scott is one of the best in the business when it comes to coaching point guards.
Scott is known best for his work with Jason Kidd and Chris Paul, taking Kidd and the Nets to the NBA championship twice and leading Paul and the Hornets to the Western Conference Championship.
He helped Kidd enjoy arguably the best seasons of his career and got Chris Paul off to a fantastic start to his playing days, something that's expected to trickle down to the young Irving.
It's obvious the chemistry that they have together already, as Irving was a huge Chris Paul fan growing up and knows what Scott meant to him. Scott on the other hand knows the incredible lack of talent Cleveland had last season and is no doubt greatly relieved to have a player like Irving on his team.
Despite this, Scott still made Irving earn his starting role in the preseason. This discipline, along with a lot of coaching and support, will help propel Irving to stardom in the league.
Reason No. 7: Ability to Bounce Back
Many were down on Irving after a rough first game against the Toronto Raptors in which he scored just six measly points on 2-for-12 shooting.
Instead of getting down or discouraged, Irving bounced back with a 14-point, seven-assist performance in a win over the Detroit Pistons before breaking out for 20 in an overtime loss against a tough Indiana Pacers team.
It's still early, but it's obvious Irving is already learning and improving from his mistakes. A nice note from Cavs: The Blog:
"One other fun note on Irving; really early in the first quarter Darren Collison was dribbling up court, Irving was in a lazy stance, and Collison turned on the after burners and left Irving in the dust for a layup. It’s like Irving had never seen anyone move that fast with the basketball before. Late in the second quarter, Collison tried a similar move except Irving stayed right on his hip and blocked the shot. It appeared as if Irving had learned something from the first quarter to the second quarter."
Irving is an incredibly smart player, and whatever mistakes he makes now will only make him better as his career progresses.