It’s Kyrie Irving’s time to shine

Ah… the magic of Kyrie Irving in a contract year.

(Actually? A small change. Let me try that again.)

Ah… the magic of Kyrie Irving since the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in a contract year.

Because if you enlist Irving? You haven’t had a complaint since Thanksgiving. Because Irving only missed two games. And if you’ve heeded the fantasy fates and pulled him in, you know that’s all Irving’s about.

Irving is more on the court than Irving is off the court. He plays. Deliver. Even better? Irving presents himself as statistically and categorically balanced. As I write this, Irving is shooting a top 20 campaign. In points and roto.

Irving’s line over the last month: 27.3 PPG, 5.2 REB, 5.0 AST, 4.0 3PT, 1.2 BLK + STL, 49.8 FG%, 90.0 FT%, 29.1 usage rate and 62.9TS%.

As of this writing, Irving was as reliable as a Timex. And for a gamer known for the operational consistency of an off-market Rolex purchased a few blocks north of Times Square, the game-to-game consistency of Irving’s statistical quality since Thanksgiving has been something to watch.

And that goes without saying: in terms of sheer observability (what about me and watches today?), the collaborative majesty, cadence, attack and ruthless efficiency of the Irving/Kevin Durant partnership is rare post-Thanksgiving evening entertainment.

Plus, Irving’s production continues to subtly and incrementally improve! In his first 15 games of the season, his 3-point production was downright shaky. (32.5 3FG%). But in December, Irving ironed out his 3-point attempts and rose to a 41.9% clip.

The secret sauce stat that best underscores this improvement: the percentage of Irving’s attempts that are 3-point attempts. For the season, 43.3% of Irving’s field goal attempts are 3s. Last week… that percentage rose to 49.3%.

This subtle rise shows that Irving, as my daughter would say, “feels oh that way”.

Now I’ll try that again before I turn around.

Ah… the magic of Kyrie Irving since about 3:30-4:30pm EST on November 20th in a contract year.

Durant has been out for at least two weeks. Possibly more. Thankfully, compared to Durant’s injury history, his most recent MRI appears to be one of those MRIs that “could have been worse,” from a medical perspective.

Let’s put the over/under of Durant’s sabbatical at about a month. give or take (Sorry. My bookmaking career would be unduly curtailed.)

Between now and the annual horror of Valentine’s Day, the Nets are playing 17 games.

Dear reader, if there was ever a time to throw your fantasy fortunes to the wind and invest your fantasy capital in Kyrie Irving’s roto crypto?

About now would represent the said time.

‘Cause here’s the thing.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the balanced, present and consistent Kyrie Irving since that sketchy salmon lunch (Pacific Time), did I have it back on November 20th? Irving has yet to try one of these games.

One of those “look at me” games. One of those “get ready to pay me games”.

And Irving has been so consistent over the past six weeks that I almost forgot his eruptive potential. His ability to write one of those “Pull out your checkbook, Ballmer” games.

As already explained, this author is a connoisseur of the performance score. Irving’s career-best score: 53.8, on the night of his 60-point game on 3/15/22. That came a week after his fourth-best game result…the 44.1 after a 50-point night. Total “these” games in Irving’s 2021-22 season: four.

2020-21: five “these” games.

In 2019-20, Irving only played 20 games… total. Four of them were “these” games.

2022-23: zero.

The time is now. The table is set. The stars are aligned. The variables are aggregated.

It’s time for a classic Irving outburst of “those” games. But to get there? Irving’s usage rate needs to stay in the low to mid 30’s. The usage rate of 30.0 separates stars from superstars. It is a mandatory condition. Since late November, Irving has stalled just enough in his quest for balance to push his utilization rate below 30.0…to 29.1

It’s getting oh so close. Last week: 29.6.

But now we have the perfect equation to get back about 30.0. And to give this author a gift basket of “those” Kyrie Irving games.

Kyrie Irving – Kevin Durant + Jacque Vaughn from John Muir High + year of contract.

Here’s the thing. We don’t have a lot of historical game data to predict what Irving will achieve with this roster and Vaughn at the helm… without Kevin Durant.

I don’t know if you keep up with the ins and outs of the NBA news cycle. But the term I would use in reference to the level of effort, patience and luck required to enjoy six weeks of unrestricted Irving Durant basketball: “Cicada-esque.” As in, they seem to pop up about every 17 years, scaring the deaths of homeowners across the country, and then disappear.

The equation is set. No durant. Jacque Vaughn’s strategic genius. contract year.

Ye Fantasy Fates: Please don’t let anyone add “take Ben Simmons’ offense above absolute zero” to this equation.

Please don’t let the Nets think the next 17 games are about correcting Simmons’ points. By the love of John Hollinger, don’t make the next 17 games about it.

Fantasy Fates, if you’ve ever done anything for me – and heaven knows I kept my end of the bargain – make these next 17 games about me. This guy. This guy who’s been singing your praises for two decades.

These 17 games are all about playing about four to six of Kyrie Irving’s “I’m-almost-31-and-probably-playing-for-my-last-long-term-maximum-contract-and-would-prefer-to- in Sacramento “don’t perspire” games.

You know I’m not asking for much.

#Kyrie #Irvings #time #shine

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