Monday, January 17, 2022

Ex-Finals MVP: Nets Kyrie Irving is the “strongest” point guard in NBA history

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Kyrie Irving has only played three games for the Brooklyn Nets this season, but his influence on the court is already being felt among his teammates. He is currently averaging 17.7 points per game on 45.8% shots from the field, along with 3.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds. The Nets have a record of 2-1 with the superstar point guard on the floor. The team improved in both points per game and field goal percentage per game in January alone.

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Though the Nets overly appreciate Irving’s return, the people recognizing his influence extend beyond the members of Brooklyn’s dressing room. Chauncey Billups, former NBA Finals MVP and now the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, was asked ahead of his team’s matchup Monday what impact Irving will have on the Nets if he’s available. He had nothing but praise for the 7-time All-Star.

“Kyrie’s easy, he’s a wizard, man. He must be seen on TV. Personally I think as someone who has played this [point guard] Position, I think Kyrie is the most skillful player that has ever played that position,” Billups told reporters, per ESPN.

“Just straight skill. nothing else. Just sheer skill. I think he’s the best I’ve ever seen in that position in terms of ability. So of course he gives you a lot when he plays.”

It is well known at this point that Irving missed a lot of time this season by refusing to get vaccinated. This is a violation of New York City health and safety protocols. While Brooklyn occupied the top spot in the Eastern Conference for most of his absence, his return as a part-time player is a welcome addition for the Nets.

“His batting technique is unbelievable. He’s a better passer than you give him credit for. He’s obviously a willing teammate. It’s not just about Kyrie. He passes the ball. He’s a champion. He brings championship pedigree to the table. I think he hit maybe the biggest shot I’ve ever seen in NBA Finals history,” Billups continued.

“So he brings all these things to you, and now without him what a luxury you still have two boys [in Kevin Durant and James Harden] who were the MVP in that game and carried teams far, far. So they play really well together, when all three of them are together they know how to delegate their roles like anyone I’ve seen. So it’s a very unique situation, obviously they’re figuring it out.”

Irving heard Billup’s praise after scoring 22 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists in Monday’s loss to the Blazers and was impressed by his words.

“I certainly appreciate the praise and I definitely agree that my skill at this point in my career deserves this recognition,” Irving told reporters, per SNY.

“But the work never stops. It’s amazing to hear that a lot of our OGs that we call our league, who built this fraternity, who built this culture, understand that they have so much praise, but like I said in the beginning, it’s only one extra motivation and keep proving it.”

Like Irving, Billups is an NBA champion, which made his words all the more meaningful to Kyrie.

“I’m grateful for that. Coming from him, a championship winner and championship point guard, gives me more motivation to continue writing this legacy I have with incredible teammates. And just keep raising the level of the championship and just leaving a great blueprint for other people to follow,” Irving continued.

“And I just want to continue to leave a mark where guys have something great to follow and I can continue to lead by example while still understanding a lot of these guys are only going to get better and I’ll see them for a while, and we have fun doing it. But I like being at the front of the pack; I’ve been doing this consistently for a while. Outstanding injuries that have cut some of my seasons short but I feel like the legacy is still being written with some great players by my side.

Irving will look to cement his legacy even further this year by adding another title to his resume.

CONTINUE READING: Proposed trade has Nets upgrade lineup with Mavericks starting Big Man

Irving will look to cement his legacy even further this year by adding another title to his resume.

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