D’Angelo Russell vs. Kyrie Irving
This is the one that might prevent D’Angelo Russell from becoming the first member of the Brooklyn Nets to earn All-NBA honors.
It’s not that Kyrie Irving hasn’t had a spectacular season — he certainly has — but it hasn’t been as good as was expected and the team has responded to being anointed the preseason favorites in the Eastern Conference by going 44-31 and struggling to get homecourt advantage … for the first round.
But the stat that might be the most damaging to Irving’s All-NBA candidacy is how the Celtics have played with and without him this season.
In the 13 games Irving has missed this season, the Celtics are 11-2 — including a win over Russell and the Nets. In 62 games with Irving this season, Boston is 33-29.
That doesn’t exactly scream value.
Brooklyn is 38-36 when Russell plays and got blown out the one time he didn’t, just for clarity.
Irving does have significant statistical advantages in terms of per-game numbers, but those gaps close when comparing per-36 minutes — Russell moves ahead in assists, most significantly, at 8.3 to 7.7 for Kyrie.
Here are the numbers:
Still, Irving has a reputation with the voters and has been named to an All-NBA team in the past, earning a spot in 2014-15 while with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If Russell doesn’t make the All-NBA cut in 2018-19, it will be likely be Irving that is selected ahead of him.