Back in 2016, CJ McCollum listed Kyrie Irving as one of his “Elite Guards”. The Portland combo-guard gave Kai some high compliments while breaking down his game.
Kyrie Irving is hands down one of the best ball-handlers in the league. A very few set of players in the history of the NBA have handles as shifty and smooth as Kyrie’s. There is virtually no defender whose ankles “Uncle Drew” hasn’t broken. And because of his surreal ability to handle the ball so flawlessly, it has enabled Kyrie to be one of the most successful guards in league history.
Portland swingman CJ McCollum is one of the many defenders who has been crossed up by Kai. Back in 2016, McCollum sat down with “The Players’ Tribune” spoke about Irving’s 2016 Finals performance. CJ lauded the shifty guard:
“He’s still a dog. His handle is crazy. He can get a shot whenever he wants. He’s got the 99 Overall layup stats.
What’s changed since my last post? I think his vision and basketball IQ have gotten better.
When I think about defending Kyrie, I think about respect. His shooting percentages were close to 50/40/90 as a 19-year-old rookie. When you come into this league with numbers like that, defenders have to respect your jumper. But his handle is so tight and his drive is so deadly that you have to respect his speed, too. So you’re in a real pick-your-poison situation when he’s got the ball in his hands.”
Apart from lauding Kyrie Irving, CJ McCollum also breaks down the Nets superstars game
After handing some high praises, the Blazers guard also broke down Kyrie’s performances from the 2016 NBA Finals.
“When I hear certain analysts complain about shoot-first guards, especially the elite shoot-first guys like Russ and Kyrie, I just shake my head. The solution is always to double team these guys, right? O.K., let’s double him. Let’s see what happens.
Kyrie knows where Kevin is going to be before he even makes the cut, and he buys enough room with one hard side-dribble to escape the trap. The pass is right in Kevin’s shot pocket so he can catch and raise without hesitation.
Great vision. Great pass. Easy bucket. That clip is from the same Game 5 where he scored 41 points, by the way.
The whole world saw Kyrie’s incredible ability to finish in traffic in the NBA Finals. He’s got such a great touch off the backboard. Watch him play bully ball here. He splits two defenders, then finishes with a spin move off the glass.
That’s good D. But it doesn’t matter. When games get tight in the playoffs, especially in the Finals, there’s no space. There’s no clean looks. That’s why you need a guy like Kyrie with the ability and confidence to finish in the middle of chaos.
Even when he slips, he regains control, spins and hits a fadeaway from a crazy angle. As a defender, that will crush your spirit.
Kyrie is the ultimate versatility weapon. He’s good in isos, he’s good in pick-and-rolls, he’s good in transition. He got game. He got a title, too. Respect.”
CJ McCollum, considered to be a top defender in today’s league, has actually summed it up pretty well. Kyrie Irving is a generational type player who was and will continue to be a pain for any defender who tries to guard him.