Kyrie Irving: How Does the Cavs Star Rookie Compare to the NBA's Elite PG's?
Kyrie Irving is quickly becoming a household name, and deservedly so.
The Cavaliers rookie is leading all freshman in scoring at over 18 points a game, while also delivering 3.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.
While he didn't make this years All-Star Game, many would argue he's already one of the league's best point guards at the tender age of 19.
So, how exactly does Irving match up against some of the league's best floor generals?
Let's take a look.
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Scoring isn't exactly job No. 1 for a point guard, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have someone who can put more pressure on opposing defenses.
It's also no surprise that the supposed elite guards are all at the top of this list.
The leading scorers among point guards in the NBA are as follows:
|Rank||Player Name||Points Per Game|
Impressively, Irving is already seventh among all point guards in scoring, despite playing only 31 minutes a game—less than every player above him on the list.
Able to score from anywhere on the court, expect his scoring numbers to only increase as his career progresses.
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Irving's assist numbers aren't going to impress many as they currently stand, but his 11 in the Cavaliers' last game against the New Orleans Hornets was a career high.
Here are the assist leaders among NBA point guards:
|Rank||Player||Assists Per Game|
With the Cavaliers' current roster, Irving is being asked to score more than most point guards in the league due to Cleveland's lack of scoring threats. As the Cavaliers add more talent through the draft and free agency, expect Irving's assist numbers to increase since he'll have more options to pass to.
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Irving leads the Cavaliers in player efficiency rating, or PER, but how does he match up with the league's best?
Impressively, Kyrie ranks ninth among NBA point guards despite only playing in 28 career games.
It's a nice sign that the leader in PER is also the same player that Irving's game is most often compared to: Chris Paul. Paul's PER his rookie year was 22.1, so Irving isn't too far off.
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The point guard's main job is to distribute, but it's important that they can knock down a shot with some regularity as well.
Irving has impressed many by his shooting, including an 8-of-8 performance on three-pointers in the Rising Stars Challenge en route to a game MVP award.
Here's how Irving's shooting compares to other floor generals:
Player Name ||
Field Goal %
|1st|| Steve Nash ||.542|
|2nd|| Mario Chalmers ||.512|
|3rd|| Chris Paul ||.489|
|4th|| Rajon Rondo ||.485|
|5th|| Stephen Curry ||.481|
Kyrie Irving ||.476|
|7th|| Ty Lawson ||.473|
|8th|| Russell Westbrook ||.470|
|9th|| Jeff Teague ||.469|
Easily the youngest player on this list, Irving owns the sixth-best field-goal percentage among all point guards.
Even some of the game's best, like Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Tony Parker and John Wall, look up to Kyrie when it comes to shooting.
Not just a great shooter from the field, Irving has also been clutch this season at the line, as evidenced by his game-winning performance against the Sacramento Kings.
Here's the stats:
|Rank||Player Name||Free Throw %|
Irving has a pure stroke and already ranks sixth among all point guards at the charity stripe. His .857 percentage already puts him ahead of notables Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, John Wall and Derrick Rose.
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A huge part of a point guard's defensive repertoire is their ability to play the passing lane and create steals for their team.
Here's how Kyrie compares:
|Rank||Player Name||Steals Per Game|
Coming in at only 31st among point guards, Irving even ranks below many backups in the league.
The leaderboard is an interesting one, with 17-year veteran Jason Kidd and rookie Ricky Rubio both atop the standings.
Expect this number to grow for Irving as his career progresses, but for now, Irving's defense definitely needs work.
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Perhaps the most telling of statistics for a point guard is the assist-to-turnover ration, detailing how well they take care of the ball.
The league leaders are as follows:
This is a disturbing statistic for Irving, but one that can be expected for a rookie.
For the season, Kyrie averages 5.1 assists and 3.1 turnovers per game. For comparison, league leader Jose Calderon puts up 8.9 assists to only 1.9 turnovers a game—extremely impressive numbers for a guard.
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So to recap, here's where Irving ranks among all qualified NBA point guards in major stat categories:
NBA PG Ranking
|Points Per Game||7th|
|Assists Per Game||25th|
|Field Goal %||6th|
|Free Throw %||6th|
Despite only playing 28 career games thus far, Kyrie Irving is already a top-10 NBA point guard when it comes to scoring, player efficiency and field-goal and free-throw shooting.
The knocks you could make on Irving so far are his high number of turnovers, low number of assists and suspect defense at times. With continued experience and better teammates in the future, expect these numbers to improve, however.
So is Kyrie Irving an elite point guard? I would say no, but he's certainly knocking on the door. As he improves his defense and learns to take better care of the ball, you should hear his name mentioned with the Chris Pauls and Derrick Roses in discussions for best NBA point guard in a couple years.
For now, though, the kid's doing alright.