Kyrie Irving is having the best season of his career in his first year for the Brooklyn Nets.
Irving is averaging a career-high 29.7 PPG which is tied with Giannis Antetokounmpo for third in the NBA. Irving also has career highs with 5.3 RPG and 7 APG. He has become the de facto leader of the Nets with Kevin Durant out and D’Angelo Russell on the Warriors.
The entire Nets offense runs through Kyrie. He is averaging a career-high 23.3 field goal attempts per game, the most on the Nets. Caris LeVert is second for Brooklyn with 15.6 FGA. Only James Harden is averaging more field goal attempts per game than Irving in the entire NBA.
However, Kyrie’s increase in usage has led to an increase in inefficiency. Kyrie has a field goal percentage of .448% which is his lowest number since the 2015-2016 season. Kyrie’s three-point percentage of .349% is the second-lowest of his career. To make you feel better, know that Kobe Bryant had a career .329 three-point percentage. Kyrie’s efficiency right now is not great, but it doesn’t take away from the elite season he is having for Brooklyn.
Don’t listen to the media saying that Irving’s behavior has been a problem. Irving has been the superstar and leader of this team that the Nets signed up for. While Brooklyn is only 4-6, the performance of Irving and their other starters does not have me worried about the legitimacy of their playoff contention. The ten-game sample is too small for me to be concerned right now.
Who will replace Caris LeVert?
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Caris LeVert will miss 4-6 weeks after surgery to repair ligaments in his right thumb. LeVert had carved a major role for himself on this Nets offense. He is third on the team with 16.8 PPG and as I mentioned second with 15.6 field goal attempts per game. LeVert has become second fiddle to Irving for Brooklyn and his injury is a huge blow to the team.
Someone will have to take LeVert’s minutes at SG and SF. Spencer Dinwiddie, Garrett Temple, and David Nwaba are all expected to have an increase in roles. Dinwiddie is second on the Nets with 17.1 PPG and is third on the Nets in field goal attempts per game. Expect him to slide into the starting lineup with LeVert out. Temple and Nwaba should see an increase in minutes coming off the bench for Brooklyn.
The Nets are also bringing in Iman Shumpert to provide depth to the team with LeVert out and Wilson Chandler suspended 25 games for PEDs. Shumpert was drafted by the New York Knicks and played with Kyrie and LeBron James on the 2015-16 Finals winning Cleveland Cavaliers.
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