Ex-Finals MVP: Nets Kyrie Irving ‘Most Skilled’ Point Guard in NBA History

Kyrie Irving

Getty Kyrie Irving tries to get past Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards.

Kyrie Irving has only played three games for the Brooklyn Nets this season, but his impact on the court is already felt among his teammates. He is currently averaging 17.7 points per game on 45.8% shooting from the field, along with 3.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds. The  Nets have a record of 2-1 with the superstar point guard on the floor. The team has improved in points per game as well as in field-goal percentage per game in January alone.

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Billups: Nets Kyrie Irving ‘Most Skilled’ Point Guard

Though the Nets are overly-appreciative of Irving’s return, the people who recognize his impact expands beyond the members of Brooklyn’s locker room. Former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups who is now head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers was asked before his team’s matchup on Monday about the impact Irving has for the Nets when he is available. He had nothing but praise for the 7-time All-Star.

“Kyrie is just, he’s a wizard, man. He’s must-see TV. I personally think, as somebody that played the [point guard] position, I think Kyrie’s the most skilled player that’s ever played that position,” Billups told reporters per ESPN.

“Just straight skill. Nothing else. Just straight skill. I think he’s the best that I’ve ever seen at the position, skill-wise. So, obviously, he gives you a ton when he’s playing.”

It’s common knowledge at this point that Irving has missed a great deal of time this season because of his refusal to get vaccinated. Doing so is a violation of New York City’s health and safety protocols. While Brooklyn held the top spot in the Eastern Conference for most of his absence, his return as a part-time player is a welcomed addition for the Nets.

“His shot-making is incredible. He’s a better passer than people give him credit for. He’s obviously a willing teammate. He’s not just all about Kyrie. He passes the ball. He’s a champion. He brings championship pedigree to the table. I think he hit maybe the biggest shot that I have ever seen in NBA Finals history,” Billups continued.

“So, he brings all of those things to you, and now without him, what a luxury, you still have two guys [in Kevin Durant and James Harden] that have been the MVP in this game and have carried teams a long, long way. So, they do a really good job of playing well together, when they’re all three together, they know how to delegate their roles as good as anybody that I’ve seen. So, it’s a very unique situation, obviously, they’re figuring it out.”

Kyrie Irving Responds to Chauncey Billups

Irving heard about Billups’ praise after putting up 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in Monday’s loss to the Blazers, and was humbled by his words.

“I definitely appreciate the praise and I definitely agree that my skill level at this point in my career deserves that recognition,” Irving said to reporters per SNY.

“But the work never stops. Understanding that coming from a lot of our OG’s that we call in our league that have built this brotherhood, that have built this culture, it’s incredible to hear that they have that high praise, but like I said in the beginning it’s just more added motivation and to continue to prove it.”

Like Irving, Billups is an NBA champion, which made his words all the more meaningful for Kyrie.

“I’m grateful for that. Coming from him, a championship winner, championship point guard, it gives me more motivation to continue to write this legacy that I have with incredible teammates. And just continue to raise the level of mastery and just leave a great blueprint for other guys to follow,” Irving continued.

“And I just want to continue to leave a mark where guys have something great to follow and I can continue to set an example, while still understanding that a lot of these guys are only going to continue to get better and I’m going to see them for a little while, and we have some fun doing so. But I like being at kind of the top of the pack; I’ve been doing it consistently for a while. Outstanding injuries that cut some of my seasons short, but I feel like the legacy’s still being written with some great players alongside me.”

Irving will be looking to solidify his legacy even further this year by putting another title on his resume.

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