Why Kyrie Irving, Not Stephen Curry, Is The “Most Qualified” Playmaker In History – As Chauncey Billups Endorsed


In Kyrie Irving’s second game, the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 114-108, on Monday night. The Nets were without James Harden and a handful of spinning coins, but Portland was down with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. and Norman Powell.

Irving was pretty good as he was in his early days, finishing with 22 points on 9 of 21 shots, including 3 of 8 of 3, to go with eight rebounds and four assists.

He looks alike despite the lack of time. He’s clearly in good condition and his ball skills haven’t missed a beat. Speaking of that last point, ahead of the game, Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups called Irving the “most qualified” playmaker in NBA history.

“Kyrie is fair, he’s a wizard, man,” Billups said, via ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “He’s to be seen on TV. Personally, I think as a person who has played this position, I think Kyrie is the most talented player who has ever played in this position. Just straightforward skills. ‘other. Just straightforward skills. I think he’s the best I’ve ever seen in this job, in terms of skills. “

When Nets coach Steve Nash, who also knows a bit of point guarding, learned of Billups’ assessment, he more or less agreed.

“Yeah, it’s hard to argue,” Nash said. “There are others in the conversation. Obviously, Steph [Curry] is incredibly skillful yet so deadly at long range in a variety of ways. But when it comes to handling the ball, movement, getting to your points and shooting at three levels, around the rim, [Kyrie’s] off the charts. Arrived in the middle of the range, it is off the charts. And it’s also excellent at depth. “

Nash – who was a player development consultant with the Warriors before taking over from Brooklyn and has long marveled at Curry’s play, even lamenting that he didn’t play with a similar mindset during the course. of his career – not fully committing to Irving as a final answer here. But like he said, it’s hard to argue.

Kyrie is so special with the ball. People have long tried to put Curry ball handling in the same breath as Irving’s, but for my money Kyrie is a cut above. Steph is much looser with his grip and, as a top dribbler, less reliable in traffic. Irving has bigger hands, and to think that it doesn’t matter when you cut the hair in half between two top managers is a mistake.

It’s not a hit on Curry, who is a very good ball handler. Just like it’s not a blow to Irving to say that Curry is a better shooter than him. Irving is a great shooter, but Curry is the the biggest shooter. The same can be said for Irving’s handles. They are in a class of their own.

Where Curry’s grips are most special is the transfer from dribbling to shooting, especially from distance, with such fluidity and speed. I’m not sure anyone has ever mastered this particular element of manipulation like Curry. But Irving getting to this midrange jumper isn’t about the threat of his 3-way opening; it’s about cold cooking guys and having a wide range of fades combined with some Kobe-style footwork that can only be described as sublime.

Irving is also a better finisher around the rim. Curry – until at least this year – has been formidable himself with an array of circus layups and finishes, but again, Irving is just on another level, with both hands, around the edge.

You will see that Curry often sees his shot blocked. He really has to separate. Irving, as the guy under the rim, hardly ever hangs around the rim. His sense of timing and his acrobatic, ambidextrous instincts and skills are majestic. He’s a wizard, as Billups said. This is the right word.

Ultimately, we’re in the middle of the era of the most skilled playmakers in history, and Irving and Curry reside on top of all the rest. But then Irving even takes it up a notch from there. Curry is the greatest shooter of all time. Irving is the most skilled point guard. Billups is right, in my opinion.

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