David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
Kyrie Irving wears No. 2; he's in his second year. He's 20 year's old; here's 20 things that will come into play during the point guard's sophomore season.
1. The reigning NBA Rookie of the Year is just 20 years old. He came into the league as a silent assassin, saying very little off the court, but so very much when on. This season, Irving has opened up even more, picking up right where Uncle Drew left off. As if he was not marketable enough for his on-court prowess, Irving -- just one lockout-shortened season into his professional career -- is already the face of a franchise, whether he or his team's majority owner like it or not.
2. He finally has his own shoe, a Player Exclusive version of Nike's high-top Hyperdunk, with "Kyrie" on one tongue, "Irving" on the other.
3. Liberally listed at 6-feet-3-inches and 180 pounds, Irving took it upon himself to add five more pounds of muscle in the offseason; this the palpable alternative to playing games draped in chainmail, something that would have been quite the burden to his ever-efficient jump shot. It is obvious that the Cleveland Cavaliers need Irving as healthy as possible. Given his penchant for highlight reel drives against players twice his size, this added weight can only serve to provide a cushion for the impending body fouls.
4. Interestingly enough, Irving -- in his new frame -- yearns to develop a post-up game. File this under "to be determined."
5. Also added during the offseason is a three-inch scar on Irving's right hand, a souvenir from his trip to Las Vegas where he suited up for the USA Basketball Select Team. Unfortunately, this also serves as means for the cynics to categorize Irving as being "injury prone" -- as if he's the diminutive version of fellow Melbourne, Australian Andrew Bogut -- regardless of the fluke nature which surrounds each of his latest bouts. Thankfully, rather than slapping walls out of frustration, Irving has turned to chest-bumping; his coaches, in turn, have opted for Xanax.
6. He had all four wisdom teeth removed last week. This, of course, is just another reminder that he's 20 years old. No word on if chicken pox is still a threat.
7. There were times during his rookie campaign when Irving struggled mightily against trap defenses at the top of the key; a player as dominant as he was at times, it made sense for teams to attempt to get the ball out of his hands. It's safe to assume that this will be an objective of most opponents in 2012-13. The true test will be if Irving has been able to counter those who have schemed against him. Having a ball-handling backcourt mate will undoubtedly ease the burden.
8. Black helicopter moment: The Cavaliers' backcourt of the future, their first selections in consecutive drafts, will wear jerseys numbered 2 and 3.
9. Irving averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds, putting him in excellent company when it came to rookie production. The issue at hand was that he only played in 51 games. Another potential issue is that he was brought in to facilitate and make his teammates better. As of right now, it would be a shock, however, if the second-year stud didn't once again lead the Wine and Gold in scoring.
10. Irving didn't start to outwardly poke fun at Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott until the end of his rookie season. It is safe to expect bald jokes galore this time around.
11. If all goes as planned, Irving will not have to defend his "Rising Stars Challenge" MVP honors at this coming All-Star break. The plan, obviously, would entail the point guard passing up his spot on either Team Chuck or Team Shaq to suit up for the Eastern Conference team later on in the weekend. Chicago's Derrick Rose may not play at all this season, let alone in the first half -- it should come down to Irving, Brooklyn's Deron Williams, and Boston's Rajon Rondo on the list of true point guards to suit up next to Miami's Dwyane Wade.
12. Given how popular the original Uncle Drew commercial was for both Pepsi MAX and Irving -- it was allegedly a cult of sorts when the player was out in Las Vegas -- it would be a safe assumption that the point guard will be donning three hours worth of make-up at some point this season. He gets buckets.
13. In that same light, Irving will be starring in an episode of Disney XD's "Kickin' It" this week. In said episode, he goes from being a celebrity in-store promoter of his shoe line to helping foil the plans of would-be law-breakers. This Irving kid sure is diverse -- King of All Media-type stuff.
14. Irving's well-documented desire to make the NBA Playoffs this season is appreciated from a competitive standpoint, but would be a blow to the future development of this young, inexperienced Cavaliers team.
15. Talk about humble. When the Cavaliers announced that they had picked up the option on his rookie contract -- perhaps the easiest decision in general manager Chris Grant's career -- Irving stated that he had no idea that was being done and was surprised when it had been announced publicly. The back story on his selection of Jeff Wechsler as his representative is a good one. This is just another line item on the long list of things Irving feels are more of a blessing than an entitlement.
16. An old soul, Irving will step into this second season as the unquestioned leader of the team. Sure, Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson are older, but it will be Irving's on-and-off-court demeanor that make him one to whom teammates will immediately gravitate.
17. Who can blame them? His smile is infectious, his handles are borderline unfair, and he refuses to back down to anyone regardless of size or career accomplishments.
18. I wouldn't count on any one-on-one games between Irving and Kobe Bryant. While it could potentially be used to raise a ton of money, it pales in comparison to the investments placed into each by their respective team owners.
20. I truly hope that Irving accomplishes feats unimagined, preferably at some point in the not-so-distant future. It will only be then when we will all be able to stop pretending that his fancy for "High School Musical" and various other on-stage performances is the most unbelievable aspect of the young player's life.