Four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving is unequivocally a ball-handling maestro. In fact, he's so adept at handling the ball, one could deduce the ball is attached to his hand. Irving (aka Uncle Drew) is also one of the best finishers in the game.
Per Boston Celtics beat writer Marc D'Amico, Kyrie's been impressing his new teammates, including Al Horford. Big Al recently said:
"His ability to finish just keeps surprising me...the degree of difficulty on some of those layups that he is able to put up..I mean, it's impressive
OK, we all know Uncle Drew can dazzle the eye and work the ball like a yo-yo master, but what about the other side of the ball. Can he defend? It's been said that Kyrie is a sub-par defender, to put it lightly.
That's not going to fly with Brad Stevens.
Stevens said Kyrie Irving will have to get up to speed defensively because they do some things differently than Cleveland.
Not to worry. As far as I'm concerned, it won't be an issue. After going to my online film room -- otherwise referred to as YouTube -- I saw just what I had seen every time I watched Kyrie play: he can defend, he just seems to not want to all the time. From what I saw, and from what's evident in the clip below, Kyrie seemed a bit lackadaisical while guarding Steph Curry. However, as the game went on, his defense tightened up.
That's not really shocking. Kyrie is an all-world athlete with the footwork of a seven-legged ballerina. He's also one hell of a competitor, so when the game's on the line, he steps up his D. Fighting around screens, digging in against a bigger defender when a switch occurs, coming up with timely steals -- he does it all.
He'll just need to do it on every play as a Celtic. Because that's just the Celtic way.
While it may seem like I'm a Kyrie apologist, I think he was able to take plays off because some guy named Lebron James was behind him, always helping when needed.
Perhaps Kyrie felt he didn't need to try as hard on D.
That's not good, of course. But this new change of scenery and, now being around defensive-minded players -- Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, to name a few -- along with Brad Stevens will inevitably inspire him to pick up the pace when locking up whoever is in front of him; more importantly, they'll hold him accountable for it.
Much like passing can be contagious, so too is smothering defense. Add into the mix the fact that he'll be playing in front of proud, hard-working Bostonians who would rather see a player dive on a ball and take a good charge than make a fancy pass, and you have a recipe for one hell of an athlete who's poised to unleash defensive skills he has -- but has yet to show off.
It's time to show them, Kyrie. The team depends on it. And so do we, as fans.
Do you think Kyrie will step up his defensive efforts this year? Let us know in the comments below.