Universally recognized as one of the deadliest isolation scorers in NBA history, Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving isn’t just solely that; amongst other attributes, to his game, his playmaking abilities are usually concealed by flashy highlight clips.
As his career has progressed, Kyrie Irving has grown into a very respectable playmaker. Last year with the Boston Celtics—despite a tumultuous campaign, to put it in subtle terms—he averaged a career-high in both assists (6.9) and assists to turnover ratio (2.65). So, can he maintain this positive trend going into his first year with the Brooklyn Nets?
Well, there’s no real reason to not believe he can. Firstly—and especially with Kevin Durant out of the lineup for significant time—he’s going to probably be given that proverbial green light from coach Atkinson and company. Which likely means, barring any major injuries, of course, that Irving could see career-bests in every major statistical category, including passing.
The Brooklyn Nets run their fair share of pick and roll sets, in fact, a season ago it essentially became a staple of their offensive dynamic with D’Angelo Russell running the show. Despite Russell’s departure, this is still a team that has more than capable personnel in running this look so they wish to keep it a cornerstone of their offense in 2019/20.
Kyrie Irving excels as the primary ball-handler in pick and roll situations, averaging 0.99 points per possessions in those instances—an improvement, actually, on Russell’s 0.89 points per possession, though the sample size favors Irving.
When coming off a Jarrett Allen screen, DeAndre Jordan screen or whoever is on the floor planting their feet down so Irving can maneuver around a defender, he’s adept at keeping a live dribble and probing the defense for any active cutters or finding a shooter open for a perimeter jump shot.
The spacing this team has is also going to benefit Irving, as he has two elite catch and shoot guys in Taurean Prince and Joe Harris in which to operate with. As we’ve all witnessed over the past eight seasons, Irving has no issue breaking a defender down at the top of the perimeter and creating offense on the dribble-drive penetration.
Via basketballreference.com, you can see via his shot selection he finishes around the rim with the best of them.
However, if the shot blocker rotates over and the lane is clogged—which was an issue for multiple teams in this year’s playoffs—he has those aforementioned players, amongst others on the Nets’ depth chart, that can knock the perimeter shot down if he were to kick the ball out.
Oh, and two of the best roll men in the game in Jarrett Allen(1.17 PPP) and DeAndre Jordan (1.35 PPP) to throw the ball to if the opportunity presents itself. His improved playmaking acumen is going be on full display with the weapons at his arsenal, check out his best assists from a season ago to help paint a picture.
The Brooklyn Nets are going to be an exciting team to watch this upcoming season and a major factor in that statement will be the in-game theatrics of “Uncle Drew”. He’s one of four players in NBA history to average 23 PPG and 6 APG on 48% shooting and 40% from distance for a season—which if replicable, will likely help his MVP odds if Brooklyn can snatch one of the top seeds in the conference.
He’s entering season nine at the age of 27-years-old, he’s in his physical prime with a chip on his shoulder wanting to prove the narrative placed upon him untrue, this has the makings of a career-season, let’s hope it pans out that way.