Kyrie Irving: Can He Become One of the NBA’s Five Best Players?


Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers is undoubtedly a rising star. (Photo by slimm978/

Since being selected first overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, Kyrie Irving has ascended the ranks and blossomed into one of the NBA’s best point guards.

However, considering that the All-Star is just in his second season in the NBA, it’s safe to say that Irving has a lot more developing to do and, while he gets better and gets accustomed to the NBA, he will become even more dangerous than he already is.

Irving has put on quite a show as the star in Cleveland, as he is trying to take the lowly Cavaliers out of the cellar and into the playoffs. While that is unlikely this year, Cleveland has a bright future, largely because of Irving. Other than Anderson Varejao, who is out for the season due to blood clots in his right lung, Irving has very little talent around him to work with.

Still, his numbers this year are very respectable, especially his 23.5 points per game (PPG) average and his .425 3-point percentage. Irving won the 3-Point Contest during All-Star Weekend and he tallied 15 points on 11 shots during the All-Star Game, while performing admirably when matched up with Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul. Irving showed he has the skills what it takes to compete with the big boys, even if it was just the All-Star Game.

While Irving is definitely not at Paul’s level yet, as the man known as “CP3” plays incredible defense while facilitating and leading the Clippers to wins. Irving hasn’t led Cleveland to the promised land yet, but neither did Paul when his career took flight in New Orleans. Irving will only get better and he has the potential to be an even better player than he is now.

Right now, the Cavaliers are 16-37 and they have almost no chance of making the playoffs. However, a nice second half can do a lot for the Cavaliers, as it will give them some confidence if they succeed and something to build on either way. Irving has a lot of work to do if he wants to build on his season, because he is having a great year. Currently, Irving is 14th in the league with a 22.37 PER (player efficiency rating) and fourth among point guards in EWA (estimated wins added) with 8.4.

However, because he’s just a second-year player, it’s safe to say Irving will get better.

While there are players with better stats than Irving, it’s certainly worth noting that his teammates haven’t helped him out a lot and just about every defense has been focused on him when playing the Cavaliers. LeBron James, formerly of the Cavaliers, put up monster numbers in Cleveland. However, his performance has been better in Miami.

Why? Because he has weapons to help assist him and take some of the pressure off of him.

In his second year with the Cavaliers, James averaged 27.2 PPG, 7.2 assists per game (APG) and 7.4 rebounds per game (RPG). Irving is averaging 5.5 APG and 3.7 RPG, although he is a point guard and isn’t expected to rebound. Still, as a point guard, he should be averaging more than 5.5 assists per game, despite his lack of help.

Right now, Irving is behind James, and I don’t expect Irving to surpass James. However, he is a rare talent, as the second-year star is one of seven players to average 20-plus PPG and five or more assists per game. In addition, Irving is a great 3-point shooter and a threat to change a game with one electrifying play. He’s already a star and will only get better.

Kevin Durant and James are firmly penciled in as the NBA’s two best players. However, Irving is on the rise and is an incredible player and as I mentioned, he is developing and will get better. If the Cavaliers give him some help, Irving’s passing will become better, and Varejao’s return will help him a lot next year. Expect the top pick to step up his play and get even better, such as the last former star to play for the Cavaliers.

And once he gets better, Irving will blossom into one of the league’s five best players.

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