Kyrie Irving Is Redefining the Point Guard Position

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIFebruary 21, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 16:  Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates after winning the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest part of 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend at the Toyota Center on February 16, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As an alumni of St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J., scouts knew there was something special about Kyrie Irving. After all, this is the same school that pushed out Al Harrington, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Corey Fisher.

No one saw this coming, though—no one predicted that Irving would revolutionize the point guard position.

When Irving committed to Duke University, he was the third-ranked prospect and top point guard, per the ESPN 100. He was fourth overall and second amongst guards according to Rivals.

Funny how things work out.

Irving arrived at Duke and made an instant impact, dropping 17 points and nine assists in his first game. From there, Irving would dazzle both fans and scouts by dropping 31 points during a game against No. 6 Michigan State.

Unfortunately, Irving suffered an injury and played in just 11 contests.

Irving made his return to the NCAA Tournament, but his contributions were limited. During his final collegiate game, however, Irving utilized a Sweet 16 loss as the launching pad to his campaign for the first overall draft choice.

Irving dropped 28 points and caught the eye of scouts everywhere—specifically in Cleveland.

Months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers opted to make Irving their first "franchise player" since LeBron James. Not only were those gigantic shoes to fill, but it created expectations that the average player couldn't meet.

Irving may not be LeBron, but he's proven something—you can build your franchise around a point guard.

Franchise Player

There are bound to be some who jump the gun and claim that there have been point-guard oriented franchises before. The Brooklyn Nets with Deron Williams, Boston Celtics with Rajon Rondo and Los Angeles Clippers with Chris Paul are present today.

With that being said, the traditional franchise builds around a point guard's facilitating and versatility—not his dominant scoring.

Thus far in 2012-13, Irving leads all point guards at 23.7 points per game. Most recently, he dropped 35 points on national television against the New Orleans Hornets.

The only point guards to average at least 23.0 points per game since 2002 are Allen Iverson, Gilbert Arenas, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

With this being known, one might be wondering what it is that makes Irving so different. After all, those four players are, or were, some of the best of their generation.

The argument of "Who's better?" aside, only Rose can compare to Irving in terms of being such a well-rounded player—a player that you can build around.

Efficient Dominance

Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo classify as point guards that you can build around. All are capable of facilitating an elite offense and each can score at a high rate.

With that being said, there are certain things that set Irving apart from the rest.

As a rookie, Irving posted a slash line of .469/.399/.872. For perspective, Rose's career-bests in every category are .489/.332/.858.

Irving hasn't slowed down in his second season.

Thus far in 2012-13, Irving is posting a slash line of .470/.424/.853. He's doing so while averaging 23.7 points on 18.6 shot attempts per game.

According to Basketball-Reference, Irving would be the first point guard in NBA history to average at least 23.0 points on 42.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

This is what makes him such a special player. Not only does he have the supreme ability of his predecessors, but he's also one of the most efficient scorers in the history of the position.

That's a number—not an opinion.

What Doesn't He Do?

Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers is the best point guard in the NBA. Not only can he score as well as any, but he's also one of the game's top facilitators and, arguably, the best defender at the position.

With that being said, Kyrie Irving is right behind him for the award of "most complete package."

All-Star Weekend may be a time for exhibition, but we saw Irving's arsenal on full display during the festivities. In fact, we saw Irving enter un-chartered territory and dominate the competition.

Irving won the 2013 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest with a second-round score of 23.

One night prior, the announcers were marveling over Irving's status as the "best ball-handler in the NBA." While Chris Paul quickly put those talks to rest with his ball-handling abilities, Irving proved something.

There is nothing that this young man cannot do on a basketball court—and he's only 20.

Irving is 6'3" and 191 pounds. He has the capacity for on-ball dominance as a defender, can dribble through any obstacle, has incredible court vision and is absolutely lethal from beyond the arc.

It may be a point guard driven league, but we may have never seen a lead guard do what Irving is currently doing.


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