Irving doesn’t have the same title hopes he had a year ago. But at the very least, he is getting a fresh start with the franchise he grew up rooting for, so perhaps that will drive him to change his ways.
The Brooklyn Nets will obviously be leaning on Irving to not only be their best player, but also a leader in the locker room, an area in which he failed miserably in Boston.
But perhaps Irving’s experience with the Celtics helped him grow to the point where he now understands what to do and what not to do throughout the course of a season.
So, here are three numbers for Irving to target in his first year with the Nets.
3. 75 Games
This is something Irving has not done since the 2014-15 campaign.
Whether it has been knee issues or other minor nagging injuries, Irving has played in just 70 games once over the last four years. In his two years with the Celtics, he appeared in 60 and 67 contests, respectively.
Of course, Irving missed the entire 2018 playoffs, and last season, nicks and bruises throughout the year caused him to miss 15 games.
The problem for Brooklyn is that it does not have the same overall talent that Boston did last season, so if Irving misses 15 games this year, the Nets could be in some trouble.
Remember: Kevin Durant is not going to be around this season, so Brooklyn will need all it can get from Kyrie.
2. 5 free throws per game
As terrific as Irving is as a scorer, one thing he has not been able to do on a consistent basis at any point of his career is get to the free-throw line.
Irving attempted just 3.7 foul shots per game last season, and over the course of his career, he has averaged 4.4 free throws a night.
That isn’t bad, but you would like to see more out of a guy who has incredible handles and can get to the basket at will. Plus, Irving is a terrific free-throw shooter, making 87.5 percent of his foul shots throughout his eight-year NBA tenure.
Irving has never gotten to the charity stripe five times per game, but now that he is on a Nets team that will be relying heavily on his ability to score the ball, he may have to do it in 2019-20.
1. 25 points per game
Irving has scored 25 points per game before, achieving the feat during his final year in Cleveland when he posted 25.2 points a night in 2016-17.
He then went on to register 24.4 and 23.8 points, respectively, in his two seasons in Boston.
The thing is, Irving had LeBron James and Kevin Love to contend with during his time with the Cavaliers. While playing for the Celtics, he had a host of teammates with whom he had to share the ball.
With Durant sidelined, Irving won’t run into that scenario in his first season in Brooklyn, as he will be the clear go-to scorer.
Outside of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, the Nets don’t really have any other players who can consistently create their own shot, so Irving should be able to shoot enough to record 25 points per game this season.