Kyrie jumped from the Celtics to the Nets this summer in a somewhat surprising move. With all of the talk surrounding the team as one to watch next season, there is a feeling that 2019-20 is a freebie season where the Nets have no real consequences for struggling. So on opening night, Irving put on a show for the home crowd.
First, before looking at the tape, lets take a look at how the Nets shared shooting responsibilities. It was known from the jump that Kyrie would handle a lion share of attempts, but the figures here are actually quite eye-popping.
Kyrie took an eyelash shy of 1/3 of the team’s 101 field goal attempts, the largest share of any player in their team’s first game. His 33 attempts led Andrew Wiggins’ 27 for the most in the game. Irving scored 50, Wiggins scored 21.
This is how Kyrie has made a living- by creating and isolating a defender who is not really ready for his shit.
He doesn’t need screens, he doesn’t need anyone on this wide, flat Earth besides himself and some hapless soul to torment.
Here he is with a gorgeous pass in to Caris LeVert, who was able to create just enough space with his body to get a clean shot up under the basket.
He might’ve scored 50 points but this is my favourite play of his. A perfectly timed bounce to the cutting LeVert. pic.twitter.com/GUTFAewf8V— NetsRepublic.com 🏀 (@NetsRepublic) October 24, 2019
Take a look at this simple pick and roll between Irving and Taurean Prince. The effect of having a guard who can score from every spot on the floor and create his own looks is moments like this where the defenders get drawn into his space. Prince rolls to the basket, receives the overhead pass, and rests it high on the glass for an easy two. Beautiful play.
Prince’s screen draws the extra defender to Kyrie who then makes the smooth dish to him on the roll. pic.twitter.com/nW2hUOl5gN— NetsRepublic.com 🏀 (@NetsRepublic) October 24, 2019
So sure, Kyrie can pass and score, but maybe the most impressive part of his night shows up further down the box score. Lets compare his figures to those of his team.
|Basic Box Score Stats|
Slide over and see that his team committed 16 turnovers, but non of them were by the the man who pretty much seemed to have the ball at all times. If you’re still on the fence as to how impressive a 50 point, 8 rebound, 7 assist, 0 turnover night is, well Twitter is always here to help.
In fact, he is only the fourth player EVER to compile a 50 point, zero turnover game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and Allen Iverson.
Of course, in the words of Herm Edwards, “you play to win the game.” While Irving’s efforts are nothing short of heroic, the game went to overtime. Minnesota held the lead in the waning seconds. Kyrie had the ball, looking to cement this game as a career-defining moment.
Only one man can turn a disaster like that into a clean, open look. Unfortunately for the Nets, it would draw iron and bounce away as the buzzer rang out.
50 points, 1 loss.
The basketball season is long, and the road to April is paved with uncertainty and moments like these. We should appreciate what Kyrie Irving accomplished in his first night as a Brooklyn Net, and we should be nervous about the duo that awaits next year.