The NBA Draft is simply the most important time of the year for rebuilding
franchises. Just ask the Portland Trail Blazers. Whether it is the next Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant, or the next Sam Bowie and Greg Oden, we are out to identify the legitimate prospects from the phony ones. Every week, we will deliver a profile of a top prospect and breakdown their game. We will give you player comparisons, ratings, outside opinions on the prospects, and much more. This week’s prospect is Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving.
Ceiling: Chris Paul
Basement: Mike Conley Jr.
Final Comparison: Devin Harris
Ratings (on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being overseas talent and 10 being NBA Rookie of the Year)
It is one thing to be able to blow by a defender with blazing quickness, but is it another thing to be able to do that and then get above the rim and finish. Kyrie Irving simply is not that second type of player mentioned. His athleticism would be considered second-tier in the NBA. Also, who knows if his foot injury will have any impact on his immediate readiness? He did, after all, miss practically his entire freshman season. He is a quick and shifty guard that simply does not rely on athleticism.
If we were to examine freshman point guards from the past few years, there might not have been one with the skill level or basketball IQ of Irving. His all-around game is unlike any freshman point guard in the past five years. His balance between being a distributor and a scorer is reminiscent of Chris Paul when he was at Wake Forest. He shot 46 percent from outside and 90 percent from the line. There is no doubt that Irving’s skill level will enable him to start on an NBA team from Day One.
As mentioned before, Irving will be able to contribute right away. He has all of the tools needed to start on an NBA roster. The one question mark that will prevent him from being a 10 on this aspect: Will Irving hit the wall in his first year? We did not have the chance to see what Irving would do in a full season of college basketball, so it is hard determine how he would last in an 82-game NBA season.
Some worry about Irving’s upside, but there is one aspect that many do not take into account. Irving projects very well for the long haul. He is average height (6-2) for an NBA point guard and he does not rely on athleticism to dominate.
While this year’s NBA Draft may not have a franchise player, Irving may be the closest to any of the other prospects. In basketball, what separates the good from the greats are intangibles. Irving has the work ethic and demeanor of an NBA veteran already. He is a leader, which is such a rare quality among young players. He has also received some top-notch coaching from the likes of Kevin Boyle and Mike Krzyzewski, which will help his career in the long run.