Kyrie Irving, this year's first overall draft pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers, is having an impressive season to start his career. Tonight he's facing off against another point guard taken with the top overall pick, Derrick Rose. But there are more similarities between the two players than just being point guards drafted first.
When Rose was a rookie, he led his team to the playoffs using not only his basketball proficiency but his uncanny maturity for a player that spent just one year in college. Irving has shown a similar level of remarkable maturity. Both floor generals seemed to easily step into leadership roles for their teams. Neither steps away from big shots.
Statistically, Irving not only matches Rose's rookie season, but surpasses him in some respects.
While Rose has a slight edge in rebounding and assists, Irving has the edge in blocks and scoring. The two players are certainly close, but the advanced stats clearly favor Irving, who has a higher true shooting percentage (.574 to .516) and Player Efficiency Rating (21.1 to 16.0).
In fact, Irving's PER is the second-best ever by a rookie point guard, trailing only Chris Paul. His true shooting percentage is also the second-best ever by a rookie point guard, trailing just Spud Webb.
There is a chance that Irving will miss tonight's game, as he missed Cleveland's last game with an undisclosed illness. If he doesn't, though, it will be the first of what will be many battles between these two franchise point guards.
It's not hard to see highly competitive rivalry developing between these two players.