Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The KI-AI Comparison

"With the first pick, in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving from Duke University." With those words, Cavs fans hoped a new era had begun. They hoped for a savior in the 19-year old, barely college-tested point guard. Unlike former Number 1 Overall Draft Picks, there wasn't a whole lot of footage on Irving, namely because he only played a handful of games his freshman (and only) year. However, the footage that was there and the knowledge of Irving's skills that did exist were enough to convince the Cavs that he was the right first step into rebuilding after the departure of LeBron. Just like America had Franklin Roosevelt to lead them through the post-Depression era, Cleveland was hoping Irving was ready to lead them through the post-Decision era. And so far this year, it doesn't look like that's impossible. Sure, the Cavs don't have a winning record, but Irving is showing flashes of being a special player. In fact, he's showing flashes of another player....Allen Iverson.
Iverson was the 2001 MVP 

Is it a stretch? Sure. Is it impossible? No. Is it even close to impossible? Not really. Think about it. The similarities are definitely there. Not only are their games similar, but they're also physically similar. The differences are there too, but this isn't the KI-AI Contrast, so for now let's ignore those.

The best place to start is the top, and the thing that's similar between these two is that their tops are around the same place. With only about a 2 inch difference in their height, neither has a real height advantage over the other. Then there's their weight. While there is a 15 pound difference, in the NBA, they're both small. The similarities so far: height, weight, position. Iverson had a 41 inch vertical leap. While Kyrie Irving didn't participate in the NBA Draft Combine, it is reported that his vertical jump has been measured around 37 inches. Basically, both of them can get off the floor. While no official measurement has been taken on their speed, it's easy to tell  with the naked eye that both are incredibly fast guys. But the thing that makes their speed different from others in the league is that they are incredibly explosive guys. It takes the smallest fraction of a second and they're off to the races.

With all of those natural abilities so similar, it's only natural that these guys' games are equally similar. Think about it. Both guys are a triple threat. They can shoot outside, they can drive inside, and if they're shut down they can dime their teammates into easy scoring situations. This makes them incredibly hard to defend. Think about that. If you lay off of him, he hits the three. If you play him too tight, he gets around and drives the lane or draws a foul. If you double team him, he sets up the open man with a good dish. No matter what, you're in trouble. Both guys are masters of the behind the back pass, and both play with a certain swagger that you simply can't ignore. Iverson was good at getting to the basket, but when he got to the land of giants that often surrounded the rim, it was his acrobatic finishes that accounted for a large amount of his points. Now, a decade or so later, Kyrie Irving is doing the same thing. He gets to the basket and is always getting points on clever reverses and crafty up-and-unders. When it seems as though there's no way he can hang in the air long enough to outlast the 7-footers that frequent the paint, he puts it in at the very last second for two, just as Iverson used to wow the league by doing.

The 19-year old Irving was taken
by the Cavs with the first pick
in the 2011 NBA Draft
Other than the heights and weights, all of those things are opinions. But you know me, I love stats. I believe stats can back anything up; including this. You're wondering, what do the stats say? Well, obviously Irving's stats are limited. But so far, his stats are strikingly similar to Iverson's stats from his Rookie of the Year campaign. Iverson averaged 21.1points/36min. Irving so far? 22.5points/36min. He's actually edging out Iverson. Granted, it's one point and granted, it's 15 games into the season. But that just goes to show the people who say they are nothing alike. Other numbers are equally similar.

Stat: (Iverson/Irving)
Assists: (6.7/6.3)
Steals: (1.9/.9)
Blocks: (0.3/0.8)
Rebounds: (3.7/4.3)
Turnovers: (4.0/4.7)

The only stat where there is a difference of 1 is steals, and that's only because Iverson was one of the greatest thieves of all time. Like I said, the stats back it up. Both averaged 6 assists, both average less than 1 block, both average around 4 rebounds, both average about 4 turnovers. The stats back up the opinions, and the opinions explain the stats.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am in no way saying that Irving is the next Iverson. Iverson was a special talent. Easily one of the most electrifying scorers and one of the greatest players of all time. If I was picking a player today to go into a best-of-nine 1-on-1 series, and I had to pick between the two, my choice would easily be Iverson. Irving has a lot of work to do to get to the elite level that Iverson reached. However, with rookie numbers nearly identical to Iverson, he is certainly on the right path. If he continues to improve and rival Iverson's numbers season-by-season, it won't be long before KI joins AI on an elite level reached by few point guards.


1 comment:

  1. hope irving doesnt stay close to iverson.