Hyping up someone is one thing, but being realistic usually comes off as less delusional. LeBron James is trying to build up Kyrie Irving heading into their first season together playing on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Claiming that he’s going to be the best point guard in the NBA comes with something of a catch.
Can Irving be the best in the NBA at one point? Sure. Derrick Rose has given up his claim for the throne the moment he went down against the 76ers. Chris Paul, at some point, isn’t going to be the same guy who has mostly been on top of the polls for the past decade. Russell Westbrook is one choice that seems to be in line, but for some reason it’s hard to imagine someone who can be so disastrous to his own team as number one. John Wall and Irving seem to be the two who should be good enough to battle for it all. There’s also Damian Lillard inhabiting this planet.
Irving has a problem in that aspect. More than one actually. This isn’t his team anymore. He was the chosen one, taken number one in the draft to come and fill the hole left by the departure of LeBron James. A few years later, and it’s been made clear that at least for now, building a team around Irving isn’t going to put the Cavaliers back in the VIP suites of the Eastern conference, not to mention missing the playoffs four years in a row.
So now it’s LeBron James and Kevin Love on the team. Irving? He just might be the third best player, and third most important player, on a franchise he basically owned the future to. It means learning to be a different player. No longer the number one scoring option on the team, but something else. LeBron James isn’t your typical number one guy. This isn’t Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony. James might be the quintessential franchise building block, but he doesn’t always play like one.
Irving had an excellent Basketball World Cup. He won the MVP. But that doesn’t always mean anything about the NBA. Kenneth Faried played there like the best big man on the planet at times, but everyone knows it’s not going to fully translate into the NBA once he suits up for the Nuggets again. Irving is coming off a regular season when it became more than just a fantasy thought: Are the Cavs actually better off without him?
This is no longer a building team, a project waiting to happen, hoping the right piece comes along. All the right pieces came at the same time. Irving has a big part to play in all of this, but even if he does develop into the best point guard in the NBA, which just might happen at some point, it’s going to be quite difficult noticing that because of all the attention that will go to LeBron James and Kevin Love. Maybe that’s actually the best thing that can happen to him.