Kyrie Irving earns the eighth spot in ESPN’s NBA player rankings

ESPN’s True Hoop network is ranking EVERY player in the NBA for the third season, and the Cavaliers have a player in the top ten for the first time in the rankings.

Kyrie Irving jumped up from number 22 in last season’s rankings to number eight this year. He just edged out Chicago’s Derrick Rose, who fell to number nine after being ranked fifth last season.

“Irving, Grant Hill, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson are the only players in NBA history to average at least 18 points and five assists per game while shooting at least 45 percent from the field in each of their first two NBA seasons.”

Kyrie Irving will turn 22 on March 23rd, 2014.

[Related: Cavaliers to retire Ilgauskas’ number eleven]

  • thenoclist

    I expect him to eventually end up at #3 behind only James and Durant. Who else would you pick to start a franchise from scratch if you were to do so right now?

  • FearTheRoo

    Surprised that a Cleveland player is ranked so high honestly. But think Kyrie is better than Paul and Curry, both ranked ahead of him. Give him a better team and he’s #3 easy.

  • Steve

    Depends how his defense shakes out this year. If Brown can get something out of him at that end of the court, he’s definitely top five. Another year where his defense is a huge liability (and it has been), and he’s closer to 20.

  • thenoclist

    Give me another player at #3 you’re starting a franchise with. Harden and Curry share the same defensive liabilities and are both older. CP3 is a safe bet but time isn’t exactly on his side. Kevin Love possibly but I’d rather have a PG than a C. I can’t name one player other than James and Durant I’d draft over Kyrie right now, much less 16 of them to get him down to 20.

  • Steve

    Last year, Harden was a 3.0 defensive win shares player, Curry was 2.8, Irving was 1.1. Irving put up a .503 efg%, but allowed the man he was guarding to put up a .508 mark, and a PER of 18. Yes, his defense was that much worse than even guys like Harden and Curry. I’d take both ahead of Irving at this moment, but again, that’s before what we’ve seen Brown can actually mold him into.

    I’m, assuredly, more of a stickler for defense and big men than you, so that’s a factor to consider here. Guys like Gasol and George may not be flashy, but they give you a good 35-40 mins a night (and every night, unlike Irving) on both ends of the court. I also see quite a few good PGs, and a higher replacement level at that position. You can find a ball-handler at another position, and stick an almost shoot-only guy at the one these days.

  • Mike

    These rankings aren’t meant for the best franchise building blocks though. It’s for the upcoming season only. It’s a stretch to say Irving will be a top ten player this year.

  • Jacob Miller

    I understand your concern with Kyries lack of a defensive presence, but you have to consider the fact that he’s a 21 year old kid on the verge of super stardom who has been playing on a team with losing intentions. I personally can’t blame him for his lack of effort on that side of the ball, and that is what defense comes down to; effort. His defensive struggles can and likely will be resolved by Coach Brown’s constant demand for effort. With that said, I fully expect Kyrie to become an average to slightly above average defender while simultaneously becoming one of the best offensive PG’s of all time. He has all the offensive ability in the world and a little tenacity instilled by Coach Brown will bring his defense far enough along that no one can make an argument that he is a liability.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Is it really that much of a stretch…especially if Mike Brown can get him to put in the effort on the defensive end (like most experts believe he can?)
    And it can’t be entirely based on how last year went…or there is no way that Rose would be a Top 10 player either. At the end of the day, there might not be a better ball-handler in the NBA…and Kyrie already has a great shot (not as good as Steph Curry’s…but who’s is?) So it comes down to the defensive side of things. With improved talent around Kyrie, his assists should go up….

  • Steve

    I disagree that it’s just effort, but that’s also the reason why I’m with you on his potential to improve, he’s got the quickness and size at 6’3 to make life rough on any opposing PG. Kyrie was definitely loafing, which is a big issue, as both the long-term plan and, hopefully, a leader at some point, he’s got to be good enough on the defensive end to make us a contender and set an example for his teammates.

    But I think so much of defense comes down to footwork, technique, awareness, and properly understanding the scheme, all of which take time to learn. It was obvious that Scott was not stressing these things enough and Brown will. Kyrie will almost certainly learn these things, at least to the level where Brown can “hide” him, much like Williams or Jones, neither of which were much more than passable at that end of the court.

  • thenoclist

    That’s true so I guess my argument is invalid in this context, but the NBA GM’s do agree with me.

    If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?

    1. LeBron James, Miami — 89.7%

    2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City — 6.9%

    3. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland — 3.4%


  • Steve

    One GM, probably Grant himself, said Irving. What concerns me is which was the one, supposedly neutral, GM that picked Durant over James? Ainge? Seems like the Celtics would be petty enough to take the grudge to such a poll.

  • Steve

    And one abstained from answering. Who had difficulty with this question?

  • Allen H

    ESPN ranking of players is comical. I love Kyrie but he is not a better player than D-Rose or Kobe Bryant. Rose has already shown what he can do post injury and im pretty sure Kobe will too. These rankings will look a lot different next year around this time with Rose back being in the top 5

  • mgbode

    hard to factor in injuries. how much will Kobe play this year? at what level? sounds like Rose is fully back, but until the real games start it’s hard to gauge. I think any rankings try to take those injuries into account.