ESPN.com’s Justin Havens has a fascinating article posted in which he uses several statistical measures to show that Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving is having a better rookie season than Chris Paul or LeBron James had.
The whole article is pretty fascinating, but Havens especially points out what Kyrie Irving might ultimately mean to the Cavaliers organization:
Previous to Irving, the last time the Cavaliers had the first pick in the NBA Draft, they took LeBron James, and we all know how that turned out.
The good news for Cleveland fans is that Irving’s performance as a rookie is on pace to best what James did his first year in Cleveland, outdistancing James in scoring and assists per 36 minutes, as well as Player Efficiency Rating and Win Shares per 48 minutes.
In fact, his current 21.8 PER would place him 11th on the all-time Cavaliers list, not just among rookies, among players with at least 2,000 minutes played.
When you limit it to non-LeBron James seasons, Irving would jump to fifth, trailing only the best seasons for Brad Daugherty, Terrell Brandon and Mark Price.
Obviously the season is still very young and Irving could end up getting hurt or seeing his performance fall back to rookie levels. And truth be told, comparing a rookie in a 66 game schedule to a rookie in an 82 game schedule is never a fair comparison to make.
But still, the numbers are what they are. Through 13 games this year Kyrie Irving has played like a superstar, and he’s only a rookie. The kid is going to get better and the Cavaliers have to feel awfully good about where they sit with Irving today.