Fans of the National Basketball Association should prepare themselves to become very familiar with the name, Kyrie Irving. With just one year of experience under his belt, the former Duke point guard has already caught the attention of fans, players and experts alike as potentially the next young star to impact the league for years to come.
While it is always a dangerous practice to tag any young athlete as the “next anything,” Irving has gone a long way in setting himself apart from the rest of the first and second year players that are currently playing in the NBA.
In his first year in the league, Kyrie ran away with the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award as he scored 18.5 points per game while adding 5.4 assists each outing for the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers. Playing on a team that had a sparse amount of talent around him forced Kyrie to step up from the very beginning, but he has since flourished into that role as have become one of the players to watch.
During the 2012-2013 season, Irving’s numbers continue to improve as he is now averaging 23.1 points and 5.7 assists this year. With each outing it’s clear that he’s only getting better and even though he is only 20 years of age; he’s the leader of the Cavaliers as they muddle through this transition phase. As the team has struggled in totality throughout the year, they are currently 11-32 with no hope of making the post season; Irving’s presence gives the organization and its fan base something to look forward to in the future.
For instance, on Tuesday Kyrie became only the fifth player across five seasons to score 40 or more points against the Boston Celtics, a team that is known for their defensive abilities. He’s scored more than 30 points seven times this year and consistently shows up in big games against marquee players, even if his organization goes down in a losing effort. It’s clear that if the Cleveland management are able to put a few players around Kyrie in the next 1-3 seasons, they have the potential to build into something quite like the Indiana Pacers or Chicago Bulls have done over time.
Even off the court, Kyrie has shown the charisma to become quite the star in his own right over time. The video of him challenging Kobe Bryant in a game of one on one for charity was just the beginning as he now stars as “Uncle Drew” in a series of commercials for Pepsi Max. As his on court performance continues to improve, Irving’s marketability will only continue to rise at the same time.
It is unfair to call young players stars before their time, but Kyrie Irving has played himself into a position of prominence not only for the Cleveland Cavilers but a city that has struggled in the sports world for decades. Hopefully the sports world as a whole is watching the development of the NBA’s next young star.