Kyrie Irving blossoms in Boston

Kyrie Irving, fresh off one of the biggest player swaps in recent memory, is having an excellent start in his inaugural season as a Boston Celtic. Despite the gruesome injury to prized free agent acquisition Gordon Hayward and a depleted roster, Irving is showing that he has the talent and maturity to lead a franchise, even one as well respected as the Celtics.

Though the team got off to a rocky 0-2 start, they have been on an absolute tear since, winning 13 straight games to sport the best record in the NBA at 13-2. Irving has, of course, dazzled like he typically does. He is currently averaging more than 20 points and over five assists per game. Interestingly enough, his numbers are actually below his career averages in his time with the Cavaliers.

That being said, Irving is in a vastly different system that does not play as fast. Another factor contributing to his depressed numbers this season may be the effect of no longer playing with another legitimate superstar like LeBron James.

Teams no longer have to worry about watching James at any moment in the court and instead can focus all of their efforts onto Irving. As he continues to adjust to being “the guy,” he will likely eventually understand how to elevate his game even further despite being the center of attention of the opponent’s defense.

Although it is still too early to tell, it seems that Irving will fit nicely into the city, and his style of play seems to mesh well with what Head Coach Brad Stevens wants out of his superstar. I was one of the many doubters of Irving being able to lead a franchise to the promised land. When Hayward went down, I nearly wrote off the Celtics. I am happy to say that I was inaccurate in my assessment of the team.

Irving, historically, has never been a great defender in the eyes of the league and other players around him. This year, however, he has raised his bar in that facet of the game. The point guard’s steals ballooned up to a career high of just under two per game. Furthermore, while his assists and rebounds have held mostly constant, Irving has managed to reduce his turnovers to under two per game for the first time in his career.

Of course, the season is still early and we will have no idea how Irving will perform down the line, especially come playoff time. Ultimately, the Celtics organization would much rather see the Irving that we saw in the NBA Finals the past few seasons over anything that he will put up in the regular season.