Such precocity at Irving’s age is unprecedented – whether it’s his soft touch off the glass or his understood art of turning his defender one way and then fading the other. Listed at just 6-3, Irving is deceivingly difficult to stop in transition. He likes to push the ball up the court then appear as if he’s going to blaze towards the rim, but then deceptively stops on a dime to rise up and flick the ball through the net.
Saturday night in Toronto, Irving made the laws of gravity stop and the laws of awesomeness triple. After beating his defender baseline, Irving stopped on a needle and began to lift towards the hoop. As a weakside defender secured position beneath the rim, Irving, in mid-air, began to float backwards, creating enough space to lift the ball over the extra defender and into the hoop.
It’s plays like this that happen on a nightly basis in Irving’s world, plays that make guarding him unfair to even the leagues best defenders. You want to play him one-on-one? Try him. Irving leads the NBA in isolation points per game this season at 8.1, ahead of Anthony (7.6), Kobe (7.2) and LeBron (5.9). If you’re afraid he’ll blow by you, don’t test him from beyond the arc – he shoots the 3-ball at a 41 percent clip. Alright, so fouling him is the only way to slow him down, right? Your funeral. Irving shoots free throws with his eyes closed (85 percent).
Sadly the Cavaliers are without a nationally televised game remaining this season for Irving to showcase his talents to a national audience. So don’t be surprised if he pulls a trick or two out of his sleeve come All-Star Weekend in Houston.
But then again, at the ripe age of 20, it’s just the beginning for Kyrie Irving.
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