Why Kyrie Irving Is Better to Build Around Than Jeremy Lin

Ethan NorofCorrespondent IFebruary 29, 2012

If you're building an NBA franchise from scratch and had to pick one of Kyrie Irving or Jeremy Lin as your point guard, the answer should be an obvious one.

This shouldn't even be a question.

Lin's rise to a starting point-guard position has been memorable and unique, but he is not in the same conversation as Irving.

Not only is Irving on a different planet, but Lin is not even in the same stratosphere.

Lin has found success in Mike D'Antoni's system, but he was cut twice before the season began, spent time in the D-League and was only given an opportunity to play because the Knicks were desperate.

Irving walked into the league as a rookie in 2011 with an immense amount of pressure on his shoulders.

The first overall pick was stuck with the task of turning around a franchise that had lost LeBron James in free agency and had just posted a pathetic 19-63 regular season record for the 2010-11 campaign.

And he's completely revitalized the franchise.

Irving is averaging 18.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists this season. At just 19 years of age, Irving is the unquestioned leader of a Cleveland team that so sorely needed someone to step forward.

This kid is a special talent, and his season averages don't illustrate just how impressive he has been to date.

Shooting a stellar 47.9 percent from the field, 43.5 percent from beyond the arc, Irving has also established himself as an elite foul shooter with an 86.3 percent clip from the line.

The fact that he's doing this all at 19 years old with less than a full season of college basketball under his belt is nothing short of amazing.

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 23:  Kyrie Irving from Duke celebrates with his guests in the players green room after he was selected number one overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 i
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

This kid has immediately entered the league and shown that not only is he a franchise point guard, but that his ceiling is incredibly high and Irving has the opportunity to become an incredibly prolific contributor.

Make no mistake about this—Irving is the real deal.

He has the opportunity to be mentioned with Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and the great point guards in this league if he continues to improve upon an already impressive foundation of work.

For point guards in their first year, Irving is having a historically successful inaugural season.

Here are some numbers that clearly illustrate the impact Irving is having for his team and the success he's enjoying at the point guard position.

Among point guards in their rookie season, Irving ranks ninth in field goal percentage, ranks second in three-point percentage, fifth in assists and eighth in scoring.

His PER of 21.2 sits second behind Chris Paul's rookie mark of 22.1, and his true shooting percentage ranks him second all-time with just Spud Webb ahead of him.

Impressed yet?

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - OCTOBER 01:  Chris Paul, #3 of the New Orleans Hornets, squares up one on one with Kyrie Irving, #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers, during the CP3 All-Star pickup game at the Winston-Salem State University - C.E. Gaines Center on October 1
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Irving has been an impact player since he first stepped onto the court at the NBA level.

Approximately three and a half years younger than Lin, Irving has the potential to be a bona fide superstar at one of the most important positions in the league.

Lin will be a serviceable starting point guard in this league and has shown that he certainly belongs, but comparing the two as franchise cornerstones is not much of a comparison at all.

The least-hyped first overall pick in recent memory, Irving has tossed aside the notion that anything about the 2011 draft class was weak with what he's been able to accomplish.

He's changed the culture of the team because of his on-court play, and without much support whatsoever has carried an underwhelming Cleveland team toward playoff contention.

There was some clamor for General Manager Chris Grant to select Derrick Williams with the first overall pick ahead of Irving before the June event.

It's safe to say that Grant made the right pick.

So while Lin is eligible for restricted free agency and a major pay raise in the offseason, Irving will be in the second season of his rookie deal and has already established himself as the superior player.

The Cavs didn't just get another player capable of helping the team rebuild going forward.

Cleveland got a kid who wants to be great and has the tools do exactly that.

Irving has already endeared himself to Cavs fans with his attitude and approach.

Now it's time to watch what this team is capable of under his guidance.

The sky is the limit for Irving.