When Kyrie Irving was announced as the Eastern Conference Rookie Of The Month on Wednesday afternoon, few were surprised.
Sherwood Strauss of Hoopspeak wrote on Monday, "Sometimes it seems as though the only shocking aspect of Kyrie's success is how shocked people are by it."
Sebastian Pruiti moved Irving up to number one in his rookie rankings this week.
Conrad Kaczmarek of Fear The Sword has spent tweets on tweets on tweets talking about how rare a rookie season like Kyrie's is.
In the blink of an eye, the Cavs have their superstar again.
What Kyrie Irving has been able to do in just 30+ games since graduating high school is simply amazing. He has a .597 TS%, a 22.6 PER, and as Pruiti pointed out, is finishing at the rim, something young players often have a tough time doing.
Irving has managed to play surprisingly efficient basketball for a first-year point guard because he finishes at the rim. This is impressive. Many NBA guards never figure out how to convert shots in the lane at a high rate; Irving, who is listed generously at 6-foot-3, seems to have a knack for getting to the basket and scoring there. According to Hoopdata.com, Irving shoots 63 percent at the rim. This puts him in similar territory with Derrick Rose (62.9 percent), Tony Parker (62.4 percent), and John Wall (58.6 percent). In fact, Irving scores 1.292 points per possession near the rim, which puts him in the top 20 percent of all NBA players, according to Synergy Sports.
Irving is an elite finisher because he squares his body to the basket very well. Usually, when he drives to the rim, he gets his shoulders parallel with the backboard, and that little fundamental step makes his shots easier to convert.
The 19-year-old has Cleveland in games despite a dearth of talent, especially at the wing positions. He has developed chemistry with Anderson Varejao that surpasses what Wild Thing had with LeBron James, elevating the Brazilian to a career year that is generating All-Star buzz.
Irving has become a leader far more quickly than anyone expected in this lockout-shortened season. Before the rematch against Boston on Tuesday night, he was seen giving rookie Mychel Thompson (who is four years older than Kyrie) advice for his first NBA start. The upstart Cavs look to the point guard to be more than a floor general, and he seems more than up to the task.
A year after winning zero games in January, the Cavs won seven. There's no question that the rookie out of Duke is the biggest reason why.
So while Kyrie Irving is the Rookie of the Month for January, more importantly for Cleveland, the first overall pick is already the Cavs' most valuable player. And he's just 20 games into his career.