Projecting Kyrie Irving's NBA Career Following Dynamic Rookie Season
Nothing will define his career more than his ability to extricate this embittered franchise from the memories of LeBron James and what might have been. With Irving running the show, Cavs fans can finally start focusing on the future—a future that could be every bit as bright as it once was.
Even if Cleveland's 20-year-old point guard isn't the type to win a trio of MVP awards, he may be better suited to winning championships than LeBron will ever be.
Already, Irving has proven himself an exceptionally skilled and intelligent floor general. He averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 boards in his first professional campaign, shooting an impressive 47 percent in the process.
But more importantly, Irving displayed a kind of maturity that's rare for his age. He already makes good decisions, plays solid defense and shoots well from long-range—the sorts of things that even the best young players don't by easily.
As polished prospects go, few have come close to equaling Irving's all-around understanding of the game.
That shouldn't be especially surprising given Irving's humble disposition and willingness to learn from his successes and mistakes alike (via ESPN's Marc Stein):
"There is no limit for me," Irving said. "The only way I can go is up. That's the only way I want to go. This season was a learning experience. I learned what to do and what not to do. Going forward, I want to apply it next season and take it to another level."
It shouldn't be too hard for Irving to do exactly that. He's exhibited signs (both on and off the court) of becoming the league's next closest thing to Chris Paul, and it's hard to find any higher praise than that for a young point guard.
While Paul was a more prolific passer as a rookie, it took him two full seasons to improve upon a shooting percentage that initially hovered around 44 percent. Irving has plenty to learn from his elder superstars, but there's no question he's on the right track.
For all of John Wall's sheer talent and athletic ability, Irving has quickly become the East's most promising young leader and a good bet to make more than a few All-Star games.
He could also find himself proving his worth in the postseason before too long.
The Cavaliers are still in the midst of surrounding Irving with the young talent needed to form a competitive nucleus for the foreseeable future. The club drafted Tristan Thompson out of Texas with the fourth-overall pick in last summer's draft, and Cleveland will likely have another selection among the top five picks in this June's draft.
As the team continues to acquire building pieces and useful assets alike, Irving's individual accolades will give way to the recognition true superstars really want—the kind that will show up in win/loss columns and puts title banners in the Quicken Loans Arena.
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