Kyrie Irving’s debut season for his hometown team was ultimately a disappointment. Injuries prevented the mercurial point guard from suiting up for more than 20 games. In those games there were some outstanding showing and a few stinkers. Here’s a look at the best and worst of Kyrie from 2019-20 and a look at what’s ahead.
10/23/19 vs Minnesota Timberwolves
Irving’s debut for the Nets was truly iconic. It was not only one of the best games of his Brooklyn tenure but also one of the top performances of his storied career. His 50 points marked the largest scoring output by a player in a debut for any NBA team.
Kyrie finished with a statline of 50 points (17/33 FG, 7/14 3P), eight rebounds, seven assists and a block. He was impactful all over the floor and produced highlights aplenty.
There are few with the skill set that Uncle Drew possesses and on any given night if he’s on he can put on a show like no other. The only performance that tops it was his stupidly efficient game against the Bulls at the end of January.
01/31/20 vs Chicago Bulls
Chicago didn’t know what was coming, no one did. The masterclass of offensive wizardry Irving showcased in the first half led to a flawless 10-of-10 from the field, 4-of-4 from three and 3-of-3 from the free throw line, resulting in 27 points.
One person who may have seen the outburst coming was veteran teammate Garrett Temple.
“I knew something was up. He was real quiet before the game. I think before the game started, he was sitting in his spot. I think I heard him tell DJ (DeAndre Jordan), ‘I am just locked in.’ And yeah, he was extra, extra locked in. It was incredible.”
In the second half, the star point guard proved he was human finishing with 54 points and a miserly 82.6% from the field. The only players to shoot that high of a percentage from the field in a 50-point game were Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
01/25/20 vs Detroit Pistons
Kyrie’s heroics were integral in bringing the Nets back from a deficit in an OT win over Detroit. Some salacious scoring in the second half was the catalyst for the win.
The timing of his performance was as important as any. Brooklyn was on a five-game losing skid at the time until Irving erupted for 45 points on 15-of-30 shooting to go with six rebounds and seven assists.
1/15/20 vs Philadelphia 76ers
Irving’s game against the Sixers was one of his few inefficient showings as a Brooklyn Net. He produced a paltry 14 points on 6/21 shooting from the field. The most disappointing takeaway from the game was the fact the Nets were still within striking distance of a win, and usually that’s when Kyrie’s brilliance shines through.
The poor output was exacerbated by comments he made after the game where he inadvertently called out some of his teammates, or didn’t for that matter.
Health is the key factor that will determine Kyrie Irving’s trajectory with the Brooklyn Nets. We’ve seen him experience the pinnacle of success as the second superstar on a championship team. That Kyrie played only 53 regular season games and was still able to step up and help deliver the Cleveland Cavaliers their maiden championship.
The question will be, do injuries start to catch up with Irving? He’s only 28 but he’s been plagued by health concerns aplenty. How does that shoulder heal? Can he be healthy when it really matters? Will he fit as seamlessly on the court next to his fellow injured pal, Kevin Durant?
Plenty of questions surround Kyrie and the Nets. Over the next year or so, we’ll start to have some answers.