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Kyrie Irving is now a Boston Celtic. President Danny Ainge wanted him badly, and Kyrie was ecstatic to be coming here. Great start. Great player. Listen to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck's analysis:
As a scorer, Irving is certifiably elite—strong, quick, shifty, with an uncanny ability to create (and convert) any shot, anywhere, from all sorts of ridiculous angles.

“Probably the best one-on-one player in the league,” says one veteran scout.

What is the most important, visible representation of success as a member of the Boston Celtics? The championship banners! How about pairing at least one of those with a retired-number banner bearing your number. Looking up and seeing that you won at least one title and had enough of an impact on the outcome that your number will never be used again on a Celts uniform. That is success. Some of us may take our banners for granted, but visitors to TD Garden do not.

There is more to the game than offensive production. Hustle, defense, passing and team play can not be neglected. Coach Brad Stevens won't allow it. Here is another Bleacher's Report assessment (per Howard Beck):
Yet the evidence suggests Irving is a flawed star—flaky on defense, indifferent to passing and consumed with a desire to score. (And on his worst days: moody, non-communicative and passive-aggressive.)

Now we come down to the question Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player? Most of us will agree that he has the potential to be that, but it is up to him. Beck's definition of a franchise player is simply: "best player on a championship contender". You notice Beck stopped short of using the term championship team and went with championship contender

This is not simply about Kyrie playing better (much better?) defense and racking up more assists. It is about him becoming a better, overall player. With his coach and supporting cast, it has a great chance of succeeding.

We know how dominant Irving's former team mate, Lebron James, can be with his play on the court. He often wills his team to victory. But he also exerts that stong will on team mates and even management. He casts a hell of a big shadow. Irving said he learned from Lebron, but he also may have been suffocated by him.

Gordon Hayward and Al Horford are the perfect players to complement Irving. And I am going to add Marcus Smart to this mix. Gordon, Al and Marcus do not need the limelight. If Smart ends up as Kyrie's partner in the starting backcourt, I can see it working. Smart's play can be a bit reckless at times, but he has proven himself as an able distributor.

It will be interesting to see if Stevens goes with an Irving/Smart starting backcourt or puts Marcus into the second unit. Whatever happens, expect the play to be a bit ragged at the beginning of the season, but things should settle down as the season progresses.


I think what many are missing is that Danny Ainge prizes Kyrie very highly, as a skilled player and as a good fit with the Celts. Kyrie Irving has stepped out of the shadow and has a bright future with the Boston Celtics. It is up to him. The introductory Celtics press conference was the first chance I have had to hear Kyrie speak at length. He is one intelligent individual. If he combines that intelligence with his unquestioned skill on the court, we have a championship-caliber team in the making.

So, is Kyrie a franchise player? Well, an intelligent star, thrilled to be in Boston, joining a shrewd exec that wanted him badly, a player-friendly coach that makes players better and skilled, high-character team mates certainly sounds promising. Oh, and the motivational goal of leading a team to the finals, or even a championship, without the overpowering presence of The King should help. Things could go wrong, but I don't see it happening. The environment is right. Kyrie Irving is going to show us he is a franchise player.

Top photo credit: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images of North America
Bottom photo credit: Brain Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Tom Lane 9/07/2017 05:00:00 PM Edit
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