Dec 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) makes the winning shot against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland defeats Golden State 109-108. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Article continues below ...
The Cleveland Cavaliers are an excellent team this season, sitting atop the East, but they wouldn’t be near as good without elite PG Kyrie Irving.
Kyrie Irving has grown up around this Cleveland Cavaliers team after his one injury-plagued season at Duke. In that time, he has matured into a player that has the potential to be the league’s MVP.
When Kyrie Irving, also known as Uncle Drew, started to excel, LeBron James and his Miami Heat team started to falter. Then in 2014, LeBron came home not knowing that he would change this young point guards game forever. Ever since, LeBron has had only high praise for his point guard calling him “special” after his shot on Christmas Day to beat the Warriors.
Want your voice heard? Join the King James Gospel team!
From a purely statistical standpoint, this has been Kyrie Irving’s best season in the NBA. His points are a career-high along with his true shooting percentage and percentages from the field, free throw line, and three. Along with his second most assists, Kyrie Irving has been player extraordinary this season.
Slowly but surely LeBron James is passing the torch to his superstar point guard. When that happens, Kyrie Irving will unlock the keys to the MVP conversation., and here are three reasons that he potentially could receive the honor.
Reason #1: Kyrie Irving has an insane clutch gene.
While LeBron James has been the renowned best player in the NBA, his superstar point guard teammate has shown up in the clutch multiple times throughout their tenure as teammates.
Kyrie Irving has had two miraculously game-sealing shots that have occurred on the biggest stage basketball offers. First was the video above were with 3.4 seconds left he made an insane jumper over Klay Thompson while all the NBA watched, and second is the video underneath where he shook Curry to help seal the Cavaliers Finals comeback.
Kyrie Irving is shooting 67% on shots that are in the fourth quarter while the shot clock in under 4 seconds; LeBron James has shot 37.5% on such shots this season. If that does not tell you he is clutch, I’m not sure what will. While the Cavaliers have been dominating most games, the ball usually finds Kyrie’s hands when the game is on the line.
His exquisite ball handling ability and flash quickness are the two reasons that he been able to take over as the Cavaliers closer. Along with his clutch shot-making, Kyrie Irving’s late game antics should not go unnoticed when talking about the MVP in a couple of years.
Apr 22, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) brings the ball up court as Detroit Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) defends during the first quarter in game three of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Reason #2: He values the rock.
While on LeBron’s team, Kyrie Irving has never been the type of point guard to demand the ball. He understands that playing off of LeBron and making the smart decision is usually the best.
His 2.37 assists/turnover ratio, while not incredible, is better than those of Damian Lillard, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Irving has become household for his insane ankle breaking ability, but his control as the Cavaliers point guard often times goes overlooked. Irving is averaging a 6.0 assists per game which is the second best of his career. While on the court for the Cavaliers, Kyrie is the passer in 28.9 of the team’s assists.
While playing 34.8 minutes per game, Kyrie Irving turns the ball over 2.5 times per game which is a career-low rate of 10.9%.
Like previously mentioned, Kyrie Irving has been able to build his game off of not always having the ball. He has the benefit to take 22.0% of his shots without even taking a dribble.
GM David Griffin has done a terrific job of surrounding LeBron James and Kyrie Irving with other excellent talent which in turn makes the floor open and makes the game easier.
Jun 13, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter in game five of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Reason #3 He is an offensive force.
Kyrie Irving has improved his defense over the past several seasons, but defense does not win MVP’s– just as Kawhi Leonard.
When the demise of the once-hated LeBron James sets in, Kyrie Irving will just ramping up into the absolute prime of his career. Kyrie Irving will turn 27 when LeBron turns 35 and has completely passed the torch.
Right now, Irving averages 23.9 points per game on 48.1% shooting. The only players to average that much with that quality shooting are Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis. AND Kyrie Irving’s 3-point percentage is a career-high at 42.0%. Of the twelve players that score more per game than Kyrie, none of them shoot a percentage from behind the arc.
Once out of the shadow of LeBron and able to take over 20 shots per game, Kyrie could ramp up those points per game while increasing just about everything. His usage rate should increase as LeBron starts to age and that will be the stat to watch as the torch is passed in Cleveland.