Photo Credit: the Associated Press
With so many great young'uns playing the point these days, I couldn't limit myself to recognizing just one.
John Wall should make a significant leap in Year 3 now that the Washington Wizards have replaced their cast of knuckleheads with straight-and-narrow veterans. And folks in the Great White North will be looking forward to Ricky Rubio's return to the Minnesota Timberwolves' lineup following his recovery from a torn ACL.
But the biggest jumps by floor generals figure to take place in Rock City and the Rocky Mountains.
Kyrie Irving nearly cracked the Eastern Conference squad at the 2012 All-Star Game as a rookie and should have little trouble doing so as a sophomore stud for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Irving took home Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 18.5 points (on 46.3 percent shooting from the field and 39.9 percent from three), 3.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists, all while making opposing defenses look silly with his ridiculous handles.
The 20-year-old wunderkind out of Duke drew plenty of praise for his play with the US Select Team at Team USA's pre-Olympic training camp in Las Vegas last month before breaking his hand during a Summer League practice.
Assuming he's fit to start the season, Irving should register an even stronger reading on the point-guard seismograph, if not leap into the elite entirely.
That being said, Irving won't likely make much national news, if only because he'll be playing for a Cavs team still on the mend from LeBron James' "Decision."
Ty Lawson, on the other hand, will have every opportunity to shine on national TV now that his Denver Nuggets are a threat in the Western Conference. In his third NBA season (and first as a full-time starter), Lawson poured in 16.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists, and nearly led the Nuggets to a first-round upset of the since-revamped Los Angeles Lakers.
The addition of Andre Iguodala and the reintroduction of Wilson Chandler on the wings should make Denver that much more lethal in transition.
And, in turn, render Lawson—a blur and a bowling ball rolled into one—a force to be reckoned with.