Stepien Rules Writer Nick Mancini checks in with his fifth of five questions as Cavaliers opening day is upon us...
5. What will Kyrie Irving do as an encore?
I knew Kyrie Irving was going to be good last season, but not that good.
Now, the question is, can he build on that success and become even better. It wasn’t an accident that Irving was in Las Vegas with the U.S. Select Team this summer. It also wasn't an accident when he was called the best player on that court. The best player on a court he shared with the 2012 Olympic team.
The reigning Rookie of the Year will be the center of the Cavaliers universe this season, and I expect him to deliver huge results. He averaged 18 points and 5 assists per game last year and that was with a supporting cast devoid of talent.
With some actual players, not a lot but definitely an upgrade, he should be able to improve on those numbers. An All-Star selection is not out of the question. C.J. Miles, Tyler Zeller and Dion Waiters will provide Irving with a level of help he didn't have a season ago. With that first year under his belt, he could quickly become universally accepted as a top-five point guard in the NBA this season.
If there were anything he might need to improve on it would be his durability. But even with that, his injuries seem more fluke than chronic. So, what exactly can we expect from Irving specifically?
First off, I think he scores around 22 points-per-game. There will be extra shots available with Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker no longer in Cleveland, and Irving will take his share of those additional opportunities. Defenses will obviously have a better game plan for him, but I don’t think it will matter.
Kyrie is going to score. He will score his way into the win column for his Cavaliers on some nights when that isn't supposed to happen. His assist number will rise too. Flanked at the wings now by Waiters and Miles, Irving will more teammates to get out and run with.
It is not out of the question to see Irving average eight assists for the season. And guess what folks; he's still only 20. I think Irving is one of the top-10 point guards in the league right now. After this season is over, he may very well be one of the top-10 players.