Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups had some massive praise for Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving ahead of Monday's game between the two teams.
The former NBA Finals MVP called Irving the "most skilled" point guard he's ever witnessed, which is a curious thing to say when he coaches an All-Star-caliber floor general in Damian Lillard.
"Kyrie is just, he's a wizard, man," Billups said, per ESPN's Nick Friedell. "He's must-see TV. I personally think, as somebody that played the position, I think Kyrie's the most skilled player that's ever played that position."
Billups continued, "Just straight skill. Nothing else. Just straight skill. I think he's the best that I've ever seen at the position, skill-wise. So, obviously, he gives you a ton when he's playing."
Monday's contest will be the second game of the year for Irving, who remains unvaccinated against COVID-19 and can't play in home games because of New York City's mandates. The Nets initially didn't allow him to be a part-time player but reversed course in late December and let him rejoin the team.
Irving made his season debut in last Wednesday's win over the Indiana Pacers. He scored 22 points in 32 minutes and helped Brooklyn overcome a 19-point deficit.
"His shot-making is incredible," Billups said. "He's a better passer than people give him credit for. He's obviously a willing teammate. He's not just all about Kyrie. He passes the ball. He's a champion. He brings championship pedigree to the table."
Nets head coach Steve Nash, who is also a former point guard and two-time NBA MVP, didn't argue with Billups' evaluation of Irving.
"It's hard to argue," Nash said. "There's others in the conversation, obviously. Steph [Curry] is incredibly skilled but just so deadly from long-range in a variety of ways. But just as far as the ball-handling, the movement, getting to his spots and shooting at all three levels, around the rim, he's off the charts."
Billups added that he feels it won't be easy for the Nets to integrate Irving into the offense when he's only playing in road games.
"I just think it's going to be tough," Billups said. "Obviously when you got the two dudes that they have [in Kevin Durant and James Harden] minus Kyrie, there's a chance that it can work anyway. ... They're doing a good job of just kind of understanding and knowing that they're almost going to be like two different teams."