The NBA is a ruthless enviornment. As soon as someone grabs the title of NBA’s best player, speculation immediately begins about just who will take that title next. And rightly so. The average window that a player holds on to this title is only five to six years or the time that that player is in the prime of his career.
For now, Lebron James is the undisputed best player in the NBA. No one in the league can match his scoring efficiency, court vision, defense and overall ability. Though there are some that argue that Kevin Durant is the league’s best player and MVP, these people are, for the most part, simply sick of James’ excellence. Ask anyone in the know and they will tell you that the stats simply don’t back up the Durant argument. But give it time. In a few more years, if Durant can continue to improve his impact on the game in areas other than scoring (as he is currently doing) he will surpass James.
But just how long will Durant have the title? Given the way one young star is playing, it might not be as long as you think. But just who is this player? Anthony Davis? John Wall? While both have the potential to reach that level, the smart money should be on Kyrie Irving, the point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Irving doesn’t get discussed as much as other young stars in the league like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook because he plays in Cleveland on a mediocre team. But people are beginning to recognize that Irving is one of the most gifted players in the entire NBA. Grantland’s Zach Lowe has called Irving, “one of the half-dozen most entertaining players in the league, with an unusual combination of poise, smoothness, explosiveness, and creativity.” And it’s hard to argue with Lowe’s comments when Irving routinely does things like this:
Even though Monta Ellis isn’t a high quality defender, Irving does this on a nightly basis, regardless of who is attempting to guard him.
While Irving’s handles and creativity are dazzling, his stats are equally as compelling. The point guard is averaging 23 points, 5.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc, a rate that makes him the 16th best shooter in the league from that range. At 22.22, his PER puts him ahead of players like Stephen Curry, Deron Williams and Chris Bosh.
Still, there are holes in Irving’s game. The most glaring one is on the defensive end where he is still learning the ropes, but this is typical for young players in the NBA that are relied on to score heavily by their teams. With time and work, this area should improve for the young guard, just as it has been improving for Durant.
What’s scary about Irving’s numbers is that he is only in his second year. If Irving can continue to improve his game each year (and if he can stay healthy), he will soon find himself in the conversation which tries to determine the game’s best players.
And when Durant inevitably takes the title of world’s best from James, Irving will be right there, ready to challenge him for the throne.
Previously from Charlie Crespo:
♦ The Mysterious Case of Alex Ovechkin
♦ Is Football’s Future in Jeopardy?
♦ Beertopia: Cigar City’s Jai Alai White Oak-aged IPA
♦ Anthony Bourdain vs. Paula Deen: A Battle for America’s Food Conscience Revisited