Kyrie Irving has earned a reputation as a top player in the NBA based on his electric skillset. A skillset centered around an absurd handle, efficient shooting, and a sublime layup package that rivals Michael Jordans.
Earning compliments for that skill is nothing new for the superstar out of Duke. After the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Brooklyn Nets, 114-108, Blazers Coach Chauncey Billups had nothing but praise for the 29-year-old guard.
“Kyrie is just, he’s a wizard, man,” Billups said per ESPN. “He’s must-see TV. I personally think, as somebody that played the position, I think Kyrie’s the most skilled player that’s ever played that position. Just straight skill. Nothing else. Just straight skill. I think he’s the best that I’ve ever seen at the position, skill-wise. So, obviously, he gives you a ton when he’s playing.”
“His shot-making is incredible,” Billups added. “He’s a better passer than people give him credit for. He’s obviously a willing teammate. He’s not just all 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 that I ever seen in NBA Finals history, that I seen.”
In his second game back since the Nets brought him back as a part-time player, Irving put up 22 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in the Nets’ late loss.
Uncle Drew seemed to enjoy hearing the praise the Billups had for him postgame while also saying he respected that it came from a veteran who has accomplished as much as the ’04 Finals MVP has.
“I’m grateful for that,” Irving said. “Coming from him, a championship winner, championship point guard, and it gives me more motivation to continue to write this legacy that I have with incredible teammates. And just continue to raise the level of mastery and just leave a great blueprint for other guys to follow. I know I’m going on 30 years old, I never thought I’d really be in this league to say that — not be in this league, just be at this age where now I’m looked at as a 10-plus year career guy.”
The Nets are now 1-1 in games Irving has played this season. Although it’s a small sample size, questions remain if the Nets and Irving will build chemistry and rhythm together, with Irving only playing road games this season.
Irving and the Nets (25-14) return to action on Wednesday when they take on the Bulls (26-11).