4. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
Uncle Drew nearly cracked his way into the top three after the exhilarating performance in the Finals against Golden State. I don’t want to beat around the bush too much, but he outplayed the two-time MVP, and without him, Cleveland is not winning that championship. He’s unguardable, so Thompson, Curry, and any big who switched on the pick-and-roll had no chance of stopping him.
Usually, defenders can sag off a bit because his outside shot was off during the regular season (32 percent), but the former first overall pick stepped up when it mattered most and finished the postseason at a staggering 44 percent from deep. Add that to a knock down mid-range shot, blurring quickness, and a multitude of obscure layups, defenses can only do so much to stop him. With that impressive arsenal, Irving embodies the new-era point guard and actually plays more of a shooting guard role with Cleveland because LeBron is a major dictator of the offense. Yes, Kyrie takes control from time-to-time, but it’s James’ team.
The most welcoming improvement for Irving is on defense, where he was surprisingly effective even though he was coming back from a knee injury. He’s not going to make any NBA All-Defensive teams, but having a competitive guard on that end of the court is huge for any contender.
Next: No. 3