Kyrie Irving Is Already Better Than These 5 "Star" Point Guards

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterNovember 15, 2012

Kyrie Irving Is Already Better Than These 5 "Star" Point Guards

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    In a recent Bleacher Report interview with Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers' star was asked if he considered himself a top five point guard in the NBA today.

    According to Irving:

    "I have that mindset that I want to be the best point guard eventually in this league, so I let everyone else decide that and let my game speak for itself."

    An honest, fair answer from Irving.  He doesn't want to disrespect anybody in the league by naming names, so it's our job in the media to do it for him.

    Is Irving a top five point guard?  If so, who are the so-called "star" point guards that Irving has already leapfrogged in the standings?

    Here are five of today's best floor generals who are older and have more experience, but still find themselves looking up to the Cavs' star.

Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Jennings 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 17.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 3.5 steals, 20.53 PER

    Irving 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 24.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 22.30 PER

    Playing for the rival Milwaukee Bucks, Jennings is now in his fourth NBA season.

    Primarily a shoot-first point guard during his career, Jennings has never averaged more than 5.7 assists over the course of a full season.

    His scoring has always been solid, but at a cost.  Jennings' career mark of 39.3 percent shooting from the field is nearly a full seven percent lower than what Irving has shot (46.9 percent) in a season-plus.

    Irving is much better at finishing at the rim and has already proven to be the better shooter overall.  Even when it comes to scoring, Jennings' best attribute, Irving is outscoring him by over a full seven points thus far this season.

John Wall, Washington Wizards

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    Wall 2011-2012 Stats Per Game: 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 17.77 PER

    Irving 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 24.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 22.30 PER

    Before Irving became the first overall pick in 2011, Wall was the first off the board in 2010.

    Both were given the task of taking over a lousy team and turning it into a playoff contender.  While both teams would still be under the "work in progress" category, it's safe to say Irving has won the individual battle.

    Wall has the higher assist numbers to date, but everything else is advantage Irving.

    Perhaps what really sets Wall and Irving apart is shooting.  In 2011-2012, Wall shot just 7.1 percent on three-pointers compared to Irving's 39.9.

    Wall and Irving are both adept at getting to the basket, but only one has an outside game to complement his driving ability.

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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    Parker 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 13.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 14.81 PER

    Irving 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 24.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 22.30 PER

    Parker has a sparkling NBA resume to date, but now at age 30 finds himself looking up to Irving in terms of overall skill.

    The 2007 NBA Finals MVP, Parker has been the Spurs' starter at point guard since 2001-02.  While he's never been the most hyped, he's undoubtedly been one of the league's best in terms of leading his team to wins.

    In his 12 pro seasons, Parker has never averaged as many points per game as Irving is right now.  He also never cracked the seven assist-per-game mark until last season.  Irving is already at 6.5 in this, in just his second pro season.

    Statistically, Parker's PER is lower than the average NBA mark of 15.00 this season.  His scoring is his lowest total since his rookie season. 

    Irving is already a better three-point and free-throw shooter, and this season has proven to be a better overall scorer and more efficient player.

Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Nash 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 4.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 6.97 PER

    Irving 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 24.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 22.30 PER

    While it may not be fair to assess Nash's season since he's only played in one-and-a-half games, it's clear the now 38-year-old's best games are behind him.

    Nash may be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he retires, but for now is getting outplayed by the 20-year-old Irving.

    Irving certainly isn't the best defensive floor general in the game, but Nash makes him look like the Dwight Howard of point guards at this point.

    While the shooting percentages are still high for Nash, his scoring has taken a dive in the past few years.  Irving, on the other hand, is currently fourth in the entire NBA with his 24.3 points per game.

    Nash is a legend, he's just not as good as Irving is right now.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

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    Williams 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 17.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 17.90 PER

    Irving 2012-2013 Stats Per Game: 24.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.1 steals, 22.30 PER

    Nets fans may disagree, but Irving has already overtaken Williams as a top five point guard in the NBA.

    Williams is still an elite player in the league, but his career has gone drastically downhill lately.  Starting in the 2007-08 season, Williams has seen a decrease in his field-goal percentage every single year.  His assists per 40 minutes have decreased each season since 2008-09, and last season opposing point guards posted a PER of 18.00 when being guarded by Williams.

    While Williams' numbers continue to dive, Irving's continue to rise.

    Shooting percentage last season wasn't even close, as Irving shot 46.9 percent to Williams' 40.7 from the field.  On three-pointers, Irving made 39.9 percent to Williams 33.6.  Irving also won the turnover battle with only 3.1 to Williams' 4.0 per game.

    Williams' career-high PER rating in seven seasons is 21.19.  Irving had a rating of 21.49, as a rookie.

    Whatever Williams does, one could make the argument Irving can already do it better. 

    Even at 20 years of age, Irving should be considered the better point guard over the 28-year-old Williams.

Still Chasing...

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    While Irving has already passed up a lot of big names, there are still four point guards in this league I feel he's chasing.

    Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

    When healthy, perhaps the best scorer and finisher around the rim among point guards.  Already a league MVP.

    Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dynamic scorer and good rebounder.  Helped lead Thunder to Finals but struggles at times with turnovers and shot selection.

    Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

    Unstoppable against the Miami Heat in last year's playoffs.  Should lead the league in assists.  Outside shooting still needs work but nobody sets up teammates better.

    Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

    The point guard Irving tries to model his game after.  Virtually no weaknesses and can do anything asked of him.  The best point guard in the NBA.

    So to answer the original question, I say yes, Kyrie Irving is a top five point guard in this league sitting right at No. 5 overall.

    Within a few seasons, however, don't be surprised if Irving himself tops the list.