CP3 on Kyrie Irving and learning the NBA game under Coach Byron Scott.
by Brendan Bowers / @stepienrules
Chris Paul isn’t at all surprised by the season Kyrie Irving is putting together during his first trip through the Association. Paul, who played under the same coach as Irving way back in 2005 during his rookie year, expected as much out of the 19-year-old rookie from Duke before this season began.
“I’ve known Kyrie since he was in high school, and he’s a great player,” Paul said Wednesday. “It couldn’t be a better situation for him too, starting off his NBA career playing for Coach [Byron] Scott.”
“Coach Scott led me to Rookie of the Year, and it looks like he’s about to do that again.”
I’m not sure anyone’s arguing Paul’s last point regarding Irving’s ROY chances right now either.
Through Kyrie’s first 23 NBA games, he’s averaging 18.0 points and 5.1 assists per night—numbers that line up very close to how the benchmark of NBA point guards opened his career. Through Chris Paul’s first 23 games, he averaged 16.7 points and 7.0 assists.
It’s not just numbers drawing comparisons between the two players though. According to the guy who coached them both as rookies, “Kyrie also has a similar Chris Paul-type competitiveness as well.”
A comparison between he and Irving that Paul says is most definitely justified.
“Yeah, no doubt, I see the similarities in both our games for sure,” Paul added. “Kyrie’s really good with the ball, his decision making, and things like that. And I talk to him pretty often actually.”
“When the lockout ended he hit me, and asked me about different things that he could do to make sure everything went right with Coach,” Paul went on to tell SLAMonline. “I just told him, just be himself and play hard.
“Coach is my guy, I talk to Coach every couple weeks too, so I also told Coach Scott about Kyrie. But he knew he was getting a great player anyway.”
Unfortunately, a concussion kept Kyrie Irving out of Wednesday’s game against Paul and the visiting Clippers. A game the Cavaliers went onto win 99-92, despite a 16-point, 12-assist and 3-steal effort from CP3—the guy Byron Scott and everyone else in the NBA universe calls, “the League’s best point guard.”
Irving hit his head on an opposing Miami Heat player’s knee on Tuesday, and displayed concussion-like symptoms Wednesday after shooting around before the game. Irving told team doctors his “head was on fire,” and was diagnosed with that concussion just before tip-off.
In the games he has played though, the only questions about the way Byron Scott has handled Kyrie Irving this season have centered around the minutes he’s given him. Some people want Kyrie out there the whole time, basically. He’s currently averaging only 29-minutes per game, and some have wondered how scary his statline might look if he regularly played upwards of 35.
That’s not happening though, and as Paul went onto recall, Scott handled his minutes the same way during his first run through the League too. Something that proved successful, even though Chris wasn’t always happy about it.
“We were in Baton Rouge playing against Steve Nash during my rookie year, and I won’t forget it,” Paul said. “I scored 19 points in the third quarter. I was so excited to play against Nash, he was the MVP, and Coach probably remembers this too. We were up about eight or nine, and I had that same routine of how many minutes I played every game with Coach. Play the first quarter, sit the first six minutes of the second, play the third quarter, sit the first six minutes of the fourth.
“So (after scoring 19 points in the third quarter) I sat the first six minutes of the fourth, and they came back and we ended up losing the game.”
But in the long run, Coach Scott’s decision to limit Paul’s minutes during his rookie campaign only helped him.
“It helped… and it also let me know, and let the guys know, what was going to happen, and what to expect each game. But Coach knows, I used to be mad half the time because I felt I could play more.”
Irving wasn’t available to the media on Wednesday, and there’s been no timetable given for his return at this point. Earlier in the day, he was named to the NBA’s Rookie-Sophomore Challenge, along with Cavaliers teammate Tristan Thompson.