It has not been the best past couple of years for Kyrie Irving. After demanding for a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers following a disappointing loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, the 6-foot-3 point guard had a rather forgettable two-season stint with the Boston Celtics.
Year one was characterized by a season-ending injury that cost him the latter part of the regular season and the entire playoffs in what was his debut campaign for the C’s. Once he got back on the floor the following year, his season was riddled with concerns pertaining to his questionable loyalty to his team and his apparent lack of leadership.
The good news for Kyrie is that his summer move to the Brooklyn Nets presents a fresh start for 27-year-old. So what can we expect from Irving in what has turned out to be a much needed change in scenery? Below, we highlight three bold predictions on how things will pan out for the six-time All-Star in his first season as a Net.
Career-High Scoring Mark
With fellow new recruit Kevin Durant expected to miss out on majority, if not all of next season, Irving will be the lone superstar in Brooklyn. Make no mistake about it, though, as he will have a tremendous supporting cast in the likes of Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, and Jarret Allen, to name a few. However, this is the first time in a long time that Kyrie won’t be playing alongside a bona fide All-Star. The last time this happened was in the 2013-14 season with the Cavs — one year before LeBron James made his triumphant return to his home city of Cleveland.
This being the case, Irving will undoubtedly be tasked with much of the offensive load in Brooklyn. He will likely be taking as many shots as he can handle, which will likely have an adverse effect on his efficiency (Kyrie is career 46.5-percent shooter). However, this should also result in a bump in his scoring average, and it is highly likely that he will eclipse his career-high mark of 25.2 points per game, which he set in the 2016-17 season.
In his first season in Boston two years ago, Irving also set a career-high in three-pointers made at 2.8 per game. With him being the focal point on Brooklyn’s offense this term, it would not be surprising if he is able to average 3.0, or even more treys this coming season.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Irving should be a shoo-in to his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance next season. As a matter of fact, we don’t see how Kyrie will not be voted as a starter for the East for the fourth year running. Kemba Walker and Ben Simmons are the other two Eastern Conference point guards that first come to mind, and Irving should easily get more votes than at least one of these guys. Jimmy Butler, Bradley Beal, Trae Young, and Kyle Lowry will also be relevant, but there’s no way any of these stars are able to overtake Kyrie in the ballots.
Lock it in: Irving will be one of the two backcourt starters for the East for the 2020 All-Star game in Chicago.
A True Talisman
Entering his ninth season in the league, Irving has been through quite a lot in his career. The one-time NBA champ has been to the highest of highs, but he has also had his fair share of disappointments. This now gives him the benefit of hindsight, and now equipped with all the valuable learning experiences he has undergone through the years, we feel that this is the season Kyrie finally steps up as a true leader of his team.
With the Nets having a relatively young and inexperienced squad, coupled with Durant having to watch from the sidelines for the most part of the season, Irving will definitely be expected to take on the leadership role for Brooklyn. This is nothing new for him, as this was also what was expected of him from Boston. We all know how that turned out, but we feel that his stint with the Celtics will allow him to mature to a level wherein he is now capable of truly leading a team both on and off the court. The time is now for Kyrie, and at this point, we believe that he will step up to the plate.
It’s not going to be easy to forget Irving’s shortcomings over the past few years, but a bounce back campaign in the upcoming season will definitely help in this regard. This is going to be a very important year for Irving and his career moving forward, especially with Durant temporarily out of the picture. All eyes will be on Kyrie this coming season, as he hopes to prove to the basketball world that he is very much capable of putting an entire franchise on his shoulders.