Report-Card Grades for Kyrie Irving's Return from Finger Injury

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

Kyrie Irving made a triumphant return to the Cleveland Cavaliers lineup after missing nearly a month of games with a broken left index finger. I'd say he and the Cavs had themselves a good night.

Just looking at the stat line you can get a pretty decent feel for what Kyrie did against the Lakers, putting down 28 points, six rebounds, 11 assists and a steal in 38 minutes of action.

Going further, he played some good defense (though, he was covering Chris Duhon and Jodie Meeks), but what Kyrie did more than anything was give the Lakers a player to legitimately worry about and account for, something they haven't had since he  went out with the injury last month.

Just take a look at Mike D'Antoni's reaction after Irving knocked down a wide open three-pointer in the first half:

He had a very good night, but let's break it down a little further to really get a look at what he did Tuesday night.


Shooting: A-

If we take away the third quarter, Kyrie was just magnificent in the contest. He was knocking down his open shots and making a good portion of his ridiculously contested shots.

Kyrie was able to knock down four of his six three-pointers and 11 of his 21 shots overall, realizing the entire time that he would have to put the game on his shoulders if his team was to have a chance winning this one.

This pretty much summed up the way he was able to hit shots with a defender in his face:

Jesus, Kyrie. Just. Wow.

— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 11, 2012


Of course, he did have a moment when he was way too caught up in the moment, as the crowd willed him to take on Kobe Bryant mano a mano, to which he obliged, and lost:

It wasn't the worst possession, but it was definitely his worst of the night.


Driving to the Rim: A+

He hasn't missed a step, quite literally.

You would think that on a night when the Cavs are playing one of the league's marquee teams and after being out for nearly a month, Irving would be a step slow and in line to make a mistake or two, but that wasn't the case.

Just take a look as he leaves the Lakers staring at his backside as he splits a few defenders and makes his way to the lane:

Oh, and what he does to Dwight Howard later in the half:

It's hard to overstate it, but Kyrie Irving one of the league's premier ball-handlers, and I'm not so sure he's that far from the top:

Passing: A

To come back completely in the flow of the game after 11 games on the mend is impressive. To come back and do what Irving did Tuesday night is downright amazing.

On top of his terrific scoring night on a big stage across from Kobe Bryant, he was able to dish out 11 assists:

Of course, it didn't hurt that he had C.J. Miles hitting a three-pointer for every one he's front-rimmed in the past month and Anderson Varejao making eight of his 13 shots.

It was a completely different Cavs team with Irving back in the lineup. Instead of a handful of isolation plays leading to a wild pass out of the lane, there were actual plays run, and Irving did a great job of taking control of the game.


Overall: A

Is there really any surprise about the grade here? There's no way he was on course for anything else.

This game had everything for Kyrie. He got to the lane, hit his three-pointers, passed like crazy, played some defense and went one-on-one with the great one.

It's easy to forget how good a guy is when we've not seen him for a half a lifetime like we have Kobe, but we were deprived without him. He needs to stop getting hurt, basketball is just a little bit less fun without him: