Archive for May, 2012

Who do Cavs:the Blog readers want to see Draft profiles on?

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

I have notes on games for several players that I haven’t profiled yet, including Doron Lamb, Darius Miller, Kevin Murphy, Kyle O’Quinn, Kendall Marshall, Marquis Teague and Tyshawn Taylor.  At some point between now and draft day, I plan on profiling each of them, plus the two highest rated Europeans: Fournier and Satoransky.

Here is a list of players that I don’t have notes on that could be considered for a Cavs:the Blog profile.  Some are pretty far fetched for the 24, 33 or 34 picks, but I figured a wide range of options could be offered.  Let me know your preferences and I’ll do my best to cover the most mentioned (Edit: I’m sure 99% of likely commenters are aware of this, but the comments page has been loading slowly.  We’re working on it, but if you want to leave feedback, you need to leave your browser open for half-a-minute, while the ability to comment loads.  Sorry about the inconvenience).

  • Andrew Nicholson – St. Bonaventure
  • Kevin Jones – West Virginia
  • Henry Sims – Georgetown
  • Damian Lillard – Weber State
  • Scott Machado – Iona
  • Will Barton – Memphis
  • Jared Cunningham – Oregon State
  • Khris Middleton – Texas A&M
  • Orlando Johnson – UC Santa Barbara
  • Hollis Thompson – Georgetown
  • JaMychal Green – Alabama
  • Jae Crowder – Marquette
  • Mike Scott – Virginia
  • Marcus Denmon – Missouri
  • Darius Odom Johnson – Marquette
  • Alex Young – IUPUI
  • Drew Gordon – New Mexico
  • Tony Mitchell – Alabama
  • Kim English – Missouri
  • Kris Joseph – Syracuse

Draft Profile: Royce White, Moe Harkless and Draymond Green

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Today’s profile covers two remarkably similar players and also a guy that I wasn’t sure where to fit in otherwise.  All three very much fall within range of Cleveland’s #24 pick; in ESPN’s latest mock draft, Royce White went #22, Moe Harkless #24 and Draymond Green at #27.

Anyone in the market for a point forward? (Photo by Ed Zurga / Getty Images)

Royce White accomplished a rare feat by leading Iowa State in points, rebounds, assists, blocks & steals at 13, 9, 5, 1 and 1 per game.  Most impressive as a distributor and rebounder, his defensive rebounding percentage ranked 2nd in the Big Twelve and his passing placed him fifth; pretty impressive for a 6’ – 8”, 270 pound forward.  Although he turned 21 in April, this season was his first in the NCAA, after originally enrolling at Minnesota as the #30 recruit in his high school class, before transferring due to off-court legal problems.  Given skilled ball-handling and court-vision, he frequently initiated the Cyclone offense, setting up a play and using over 29% of the team’s possessions.  Downsides include relatively poor offensive efficiency.  He lacks three point range and only converted 50% of his free throws; these two flaws resulted in pedestrian 53% true shooting.  Due to frequently wild forays to the basket, his 3.8 turnovers a night waste the 9th most possessions per game in the NCAA.  Defensively, he doesn’t always engage, which combined with his physique, may make effectively solidifying an NBA defense difficult.  Finally, he has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which for more information, I suggest you go here.

Moe Harkless finished his freshman year at St. John’s, averaging over 15 points and 8 rebounds in 36 minutes per game, as the Red Storm endured a difficult season dealing with Coach Steve Lavin’s battle with prostate cancer.  Harkless is a long, 6’ – 8” small forward possessing great athleticism.  Still offensively raw, his most efficient looks occur through transition, off-the-ball movement, and offensive rebounds.  While aggressive with the rock in his hands, his ball-handling skills are a work-in-progress and shooting range is currently non-existent; he netted only 17 of 79 from three-point range this year.  Combined with only making four trips to the foul line a game, in part due to his slender build, his offensive efficiency was poor (50% TS, 100 offensive rating).  On defense, he possesses much promise thanks to his length, speed and jumping ability, which he parlayed into a combined 3 blocks plus steals per game.

You say you've got a primary ball handler? How about a basketball savvy bruiser? (Photo by Jaime Sabau - Getty Images)

Want to hear an amazing stat about Draymond Green?  With 16 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 33 minutes, he was the first “major conference” player to post a 15 – 10 – 3 since Tim Duncan.  Tim Duncan!!  Green isn’t embarking on a hall-of-fame career, but does bring a lot to the table.  For a power forward, he exhibits outstanding ball-handling and passing ability.  Launching 134 threes this year, he found net on 39%.  As a defensive rebounder, he ranked as 7th best in the NCAA.  Downsides include his size; standing only 6’ – 6” tall, many question his ability to handle opposing power forwards in the NBA, especially when combining his height with his marginal athleticism.  These flaws resulted in Green only converting 47% of his two point field goals, ranking him 18th of 19 power forwards likely taken in the 2012 draft.  Defensively, he attempts to overcome his non-impressive physical traits with outstanding “motor” and  “basketball IQ”, but larger and faster players can overwhelm in isolation, on switches or on the block.

Game Recaps: In Iowa State’s regular season finale; White recorded a double-double in the Cyclone’s 80 – 72 win over Baylor.  Baylor’s zone didn’t allow White to showcase his best skills, but the game proved interesting in a few ways.  White matched up with likely top-10 pick Perry Jones III and held him to ten points on eleven shots.  His on-ball defense, primarily in the post, appeared to be much stronger than away from the ball, as his commitment to rotations ebbed.  Sometimes loafing back down court, on one transition trip, PJ3 dribbled faster than White ran (admittedly, this is also a testament to Jones’ speed).  On offense, White’s 11 points derived primarily through a unique wrinkle in the Bears defensive scheme; they chose not to guard him.  Allowing White to set up shop at the free throw line in the center of their zone, Baylor dared him to take the 15 footer.  He sometimes did, mostly unsuccessfully, but frequently attacked the big man waiting at the basket, either drawing fouls or attempting to kick to open cutters.  His 5 of 10 from the charity stripe, along with four assists, often came from this setup.  He definitely passes with NBA-level zip on the ball – throwing lasers, although this also helped contribute to his three turnovers.

Oh - Your team needs athletic wings! Then I know a guy! (Photo by Patrick McDermott - Getty Images)

Harkless played all forty minutes in the last game of his collegiate career, totaling 25 points and 9 rebounds on 70% true shooting, as St. John’s lost 59 to 73 against Pittsburg.  As the tallest player on their roster, Harkless actually takes the jump ball for the Red Storm.  He scored through diverse means, but proved most effective in transition and as an offensive rebounder, where his outstanding leaping nabbed five boards this game.  Flashing a crafty finger-roll and a tough reverse layup, he displayed athleticism as a finisher.  He frequently used jab-steps and pump-fakes to settle into pull-up jumpers from isolation.  As ball-handling negatives, he nearly always starts right and lost a possession on a travel & a charge.  On both ends of the court, his movements are laid-back, or “smooth” in the parlance of the announcers.  In this regard, he looked like a younger, taller Jeremy Lamb, without a jump shot.  Defensively, there weren’t a lot of high points; Ashton Gibbs left Harkless flat-footed on several drives, and his strength posed issues when battling screeners.

In leading Michigan State to the Big Ten Championship, Green tallied 12 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists as part of a 68 – 64 win over Ohio State.  Starting with negatives, as part of a 4 of 15 shooting day, his back-to-the-basket work was miserable.  One of five were made, including two blocked shots and two badly missed turnaround jumpers.  Faulty footwork resulted in a travel, one of two turnovers from the low post.  Being slow afoot showed on defense, as Aaron Craft twice blew past him and DeShaun Thomas once left him on the ground, after Green bit on a pump fake.  Positives included draining two of three from deep and exhibiting excellent court vision, both driving & dishing, and on a sweet mid-shot adjustment to hit a wide-open cutter.  Green’s off-the-ball team defense looked superb: setting up for two charges, rotating into a baseline trap & causing a turnover, and offering help on pick-and-rolls to force misses.  For his defensive work, the announcers described him as “one step ahead of everyone else”.

Summary: A preference amongst these three may come down to a team’s draft philosophy.  If they’re looking for a relatively safe bet as an immediate rotation player, Draymond Green is the choice.  His court vision, shooting, rebounding and basketball IQ should provide immediate depth improvement to the team drafting him.  If the team is willing to roll the dice on “upside”, Royce White or Moe Harkless make the grade.

Given that the Cavs won’t contend next year, Moe Harkless appears as a solid pick.  They have the ability to be patient and develop him as part of the re-building process, and if he doesn’t pan out, Cleveland owns plenty of  late 1st rounders over the next few years, where they can draft the “Draymond Green” of 2013 or 2014.  Harkless fits a lot of Cavs needs as a long, athletic wing - the type of player the team is completely void of.  He only turned 19 last week.  Despite my reporting defensive malaise in the game recap; earlier in the season ESPN called him an “athlete who works hard on both ends of the floor” with a “non-stop motor”.  Displaying serious defensive effort would look really good on Harkless.  Surely, this was a tough season for him; he primarily played power forward and sometimes center, and the leadership carousel resulting from his coach’s cancer battle stressed the entire team.  Possibly, by early March, Harkless was just ready to move on, and his defensive effort suffered because of it.

Regarding Royce White, his poor shooting and waning defensive motor cause concern.  For what it’s worth, despite playing nearly 80% of Iowa State’s minutes, the Cyclones were only +133 when he played, compared to a relatively robust +77 with him sitting.  He was electric in two NCAA tourney games, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds on 71% true shooting, but all things considered, there are other players I prefer the Cavs to target late in the first round.

Kyrie makes 1st team all-rookie, Tristan lands on 2nd team

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Congratulations to Cleveland’s two high profiles rookies!!

Kyrie Irving was the only unanimous selection to the 2011-2012 NBA all-Rookie 1st team, while Tristan rounded out the second unit, including receiving two first-team votes.

Cavs:the Blog certainly looks forward to next year, when they are mentoring their rookie teammates towards a place on these teams.

Cavs take round one in Ramon Sessions trade

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

With the Lakers 2nd round playoff loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday, Round 1 of the Ramon Sessions trade is in the books.  And Cleveland’s winning.  In 12 playoff games, Ramon posted an 8.5 PER and was worth negative win shares.  Meanwhile, the Cavs plummeted to the third best lottery odds.

Despite the Cavs having the trade up-against-the-ropes, it’s still too early to predict a knockout.  Still to come:

Round 2: Does Cleveland land a rotation player at #24 in this year’s draft?

Round 3: Does Ramon pick up his player option for 2012 – 2013?  If not, does he re-sign with the Lakers and for how much?  (Despite the imagery of “winning” the trade based on Ramon’s non-success, Cavs: the Blog wishes him the best for the remainder of his career.)

Round 4: Can the Cavs package Luke Walton’s expiring contract at the trade deadline for something worthwhile?  Or do they just pay Walton $6.1 million for “veteran leadership”?

Round 5:  How does LAL finish next year?  Can Cleveland land a valuable piece with LA’s 2013 first rounder?

Alot of blows still to be exchanged, but so far, so good for Chris Grant and  company.

Kyrie Irving is Also a Jokester

Friday, May 18th, 2012

So, due either to video embedding in WordPress being weird or my not being intelligent enough, I can only link you to this video of Kyrie Irving dressed up as an old man, positively clowning nobodies at a streetball game. It’s worth watching, not because it’s super hilarious Louis CK-level comedy (although “he got hospital shoes on!” is pretty great trash talk), but because it’s delightful to watch an NBA player in septuagenarian makeup throw himself an alley-oop off the backboard. Kyrie Irving knows what the people want.

Kyrie Irving Likes Musicals

Friday, May 18th, 2012

From an interview with GQ:

GQ: What’s a good movie that GQ readers should check out based on Kyrie’s recommendation?
Kyrie Irving:
SafehouseChronicleOzDreamgirls, Rent

GQ: Rent?
Kyrie Irving:
Yeah, Dreamgirls and Rent. I probably know all the words to the songs of Rent. Honestly.

GQ: Didn’t take you for much of a musicals kind of guy.
Kyrie Irving:
Yep. Rent, Wicked, Lion King

The interview is a short, pleasant read. I don’t remember if I’ve talked about this on The Blog, but one of the cool things about this rebuild is that we are getting to know new people. (In the way that fans “get to know” athletes, which is obviously different from meeting someone at a bar or whatever.) Kyrie seems like a smart, engaging guy. As he and the Cavaliers (hopefully) improve over the next half-decade, it’ll be interesting to start to understand his personality, idiosyncrasies, motivation, etc. That he likes Rent is kind of a stomach punch, though.

Draft Profile – Arnett Moultrie, Meyers Leonard, and Fab Melo

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Today’s draft profile covers three NCAA big men likely picked in the latter half of the first round.  If Cleveland wants to make a serious run at any of them, a trade of picks is probably required.  In their latest mock draft, ESPN indicates Arnett Moultrie goes #16, Meyers Leonard at #19 and Fab Melo at #21.

How dare you question my defensive intensity? Do you see the look on my face? (photo by Wesley Hitt / Getty Images)

Moultrie finished his junior year at Mississippi State, after transferring from UTEP following disciplinary issues.  At the start of the next NBA season, he’ll reach 22 years old and is a 6’-11” power forward possessing great running and leaping ability.  This past season, he averaged 16 points, based on high-flying finishing ability and a growing face-up game.  His 61% true shooting benefitted from 78% makes at the foul line, and he even found net on 8 of 18 three point attempts.  Performing admirably on the boards, he rounded out a double-double for the year by posting the SEC’s second best defensive rebounding percentage along with a top-ten offensive board rate.  Unfortunately he struggles to show enthusiasm for team defense, rotating poorly and offering limited help at the rim.  His slight frame, carrying only 220 lbs, can be abused by stronger, more physical post players.  Despite logging 36 minutes per game as a near-seven-foot-tall pogo-stick against only the NCAA’s 89th most difficult schedule, he blocked 0.8 shots a night.

Leonard’s strengths start with his 7 foot height, 240 pound build, and 7’ – 3” wingspan.  In addition, he is coordinated and athletic, and obviously NBA decision-makers love this tool kit.  He used these attributes to rack up 14 points and 8 rebounds on extremely efficient 62% true shooting during his sophomore season at Illinois.  Offensively raw, he primarily scores thanks to his size and agility, with limited post moves and largely unexplored shooting range.  He did make 72% of his free throws.  While acceptable as a defensive rebounder, grabbing only  9% of available offensive rebounds ranks him 8th of 9 centers  in draftexpress’s 2012 database.   Defensively, his length and mobility make things difficult for NCAA players, but his two blocks in 32 minutes per game are definitely average.  The largest knock on Meyers  involves his maturity, confidence and focus.  He disappears, including over one-third of his game’s this season featuring single digit scoring.  These issues manifest themselves frequently on defense, where his understanding lacks.  This will be addressed further in the game recaps.

Fab Melo turns 22 in June and also stands 7-foot tall with a 7’ – 3” wingspan.  Originally from Brazil and recently completing his sophomore year as the center in Syracuse’s zone,  Melo ranked 11th in the NCAA in blocks per game, with 2.9.  This also placed him 11th for percentage of opponent shots blocked.  He scores efficiently at the basket, but is very low usage, as his back-to-the-basket game and jump-shooting are not reliable weapons.  His scoring average was only 8 per game, combined with fewer than 6 rebounds in 25 minutes.  The low rebounding totals present cause for concern, as a propensity to over-pursue blocks & poor fundamentals result in ranking 44th in the Big East for defensive rebound rate.   Although greatly improved from last year, his 4.5 fouls per forty minutes ranks 2nd worst of the nine centers most likely to be drafted in 2012.

Now, onto some game recaps…

Fool! This is the facial expression of a man playing at full effort! (Photo by Chris Chambers / Getty Images)

03/08 Syracuse versus UConn - Fab Melo posted 7 points, 6 rebounds and 1 block in Syracuse’s 58 – 55 Big East tourney win.  One of his three field goals came on a two-handed power finish of a pick-and-roll, and another via a putback.  This is how most of his NBA offense will also be generated.  His court vision looked decent; one assist found a cutter at the basket, while a pass from the post located an open shooter.  A defensive trap resulted in a steal, which Melo promptly outletted for a fast break dunk.  Defensively, he actively patrols the paint, but the Syracuse zone keeps him from experiencing numerous opportunities for post defense or switching on pick-and-rolls.  In limited chances, Alex Oriaki beat him with a drop-step and Andre Drummond sealed Melo on his hip and authoritatively dunked.  On the bright side, Melo moved well to defend a guard off a hand-off and on another possession, slid in for a charge.   One particularly noteable offensive possession occurred late, with the Orangemen protecting a 4 point lead.  After a Syracuse offensive rebound, the ball swung to Melo, who shot & missed an 18 footer with 30+ seconds remaining on the shot clock.  During a subsequent timeout, teammate Carter Williams gave Melo a hard time about the play, and Melo barked back.  Jim Boeheim pulled his big man aside to calm him down.  One other questionable play occurred with 17 seconds remaining, when he fouled a UConn shooter with Syracuse up seven.  There was no business fouling there, and the and-one turned a nearly over game slightly more competitive.  Melo will be 22  in June; these absent-minded miscues need to end.

03/09 Syracuse versus Cincinnati - I have notes on this game, but won’t use most of them.  These profiles get too long with three players and two game recaps each.  Melo had 0 blocks and 2 goal-tends in his last game of the season, before sitting due to non-disclosed eligibilty issues.

Imbeciles! I reign supreme and you will cower in fear at my intense growl! (Photo by Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

03/08 Illinois vs Iowa - Despite tallying a highly efficient 18 points in 35 minutes, Meyers Leonard’s college career ended in this 61 to 64 Big Ten Tourney defeat.  Leonard converted 9 of 11 field goals and never turned the ball over, complimenting his six rebounds, two blocks & two assists.  His size & length immediately jump out, and the announcers described him as “one of the most athletic seven-footers you’ll see”.  He scored twice rolling off a pick, a natural ability given his athleticism, and also scored twice from the block, including a righty hook shot.  His most skilled possession occurred with a three-dribble drive from outside the three point line, that combined with a little shimmy, ended with a soft bank shot.  During the first half, Leonard played very physically at both ends of the court, clearing out space on the defensive boards and establishing deep position on offense.  In the second half though, he visibly wore down and Iowa moved him around at will, as Leonard grabbed only one defensive rebound while Iowa dominated, securing 12 of their 14 offensive boards.  He did not attempt a field goal in the final ten mintues, and on one possession, he bit on a pump fake and fouled the shooter hard, appearing extremely frustrated afterwards.  Throughout the entire game, his help rotations seemed a half-step slow, and Iowa’s bigs netted a few easy transition layups as Leonard trotted down court.

03/13 – Mississippi State vs UMass - In this double-overtime opening game of the NIT, Moultrie tallied 34 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists on 63% true shooting, as his collegiate career ended in a 96 to 101 loss.  The game was played loose and fast, with the announcers discussing the “shirts & skins” feel and how the team’s “can get about any shot they want.”  Offensively, his most effective moments came in transition, including three alley-oop finishes.  He converted two of five from long-distance and displayed strong face-up ability, particularly going right, including a flashy spin move to get to the basket.  His post offense lacked, scoring on only one of four attempts with his back to the basket, relying strictly on drop-steps and left-handed hook shots.  In contrast to his assists, two turnovers resulted from wild passes nowhere within reach of the intended recipient.  Perhaps fault for his non-existent defensive intensity lies with playing 49 minutes, but my notes include the words: lazy, disinterested, non-chalant, sad, half-hearted, etc.

03/08  -Mississippi State vs Georgia - I also have notes on this game, but won’t elaborate.  Moultrie posted 7 points, 8 rebounds and 0 assists on 31% true shooting as his SEC tourney run ended.  Not much worked for him, particularly from the block, where he converted 1 of 5.  Facing the basket is his bread-and-butter.

Summary: My inclination is that the Cavs shouldn’t make an effort to trade up for any of these players, and Festus Ezeli at #33 is supreme value.

Moultrie reminds me of JJ Hickson; an explosively athletic power forward fairly well versed in scoring points and grabbing rebounds, but less accomplished at ummmm…playing winning basketball.   Watching him play defense is not impressive, and it is hard to fathom how he only blocked 23 shots in nearly 1100 minutes against theNCAA’s 273rd most difficult out-of-conference schedule (according to kenpom.com).  For a quick statistical comparison of 19 year old JJ Hickson to 21 year old Arnett Moultrie, here’s a table.  Very similar in alot of ways, and both also carry defensive shortfalls.

At the college level, Meyers Leonard’s size & agility allow him to frequently leave his imprint on a game, but in the NBA, those traits alone won’t be sufficient.  After one defensive rebound bounced off his head in the Iowa game, I noted that his ability to operate within the “flow” of the game - his intrinsic anticipation of “what comes next?” seemed limited.  This will need to improve with time, as will his conditioning and apparently, his confidence & maturity.  As of today, I prefer Leonard of these three big men however.  While not a sure thing; his combo of age, size, athleticism and production makes him the best prospect.

Melo is basically only really exceptional at shot blocking, and it’s not always a skill that translates well to the NBA.  Also, there’s a tendency for him to make bone-headed mistakes.  Best guess as to his place in the NBA is an the starter on a sub-par team or a back-up on a strong one.

Next week, I’ll post profiles including: Royce White, Draymond Green, Moe Harkless, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller.  Who do I like?  Stay tuned…

Episode 0006 – PLAYOFFS! DON’T TALK ABOUT PLAYOFFS!

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Weeeee’re back!  With another podcast for your listening pleasure.  John, Kevin, Colin, and I give our opinions on Kyrie’s ROY win, the playoffs, and some of your questions.  I’ve pretty much given up on all other sites for now, so you can find us at:

http://soundcloud.com/cavstheblog/0006-playoffs-dont-talk-about

http://www.mediafire.com/?f1l3qr29u0ajduy

We ARE on iTunes, but apparently there’s an issue so I’m resubmitting the link to Apple.  I’ll update you guys with the details once it’s finalized.  Thanks to Ryan for the great podcast logo, too!!!!

Enjoy!

Podcasting Tonight! Ask us a question!

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

You probably all know the drill – we’re podcasting tonight and are taking one reader question.  In the comments section post your questions and we’ll pick the best one.  If you have a draft question save it for the next podcast, when we’ll have a nice long conversation about who the Cavs might select.

Extra props for the funniest/best question regarding the Cavs or the NBA in general.

Joyful Noise

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Kyrie Irving is officially the NBA’s top rookie, KIA seal of approval and all. This is barely news, much like the Cavaliers drafting Irving with the first overall pick nearly a year ago wasn’t a surprise so much as a pre-ordained event that had not quite yet happened until, mercifully, he shook David Stern’s hand while wearing a Cavs cap, and we could finally excise the word “presumptive” from our discussions about him. The Rookie of the Year race circa February was closer than one might recall. If Ricky Rubio had a slightly better jump shot and healthy knees, the days leading up to this announcement might have held a few droplets of suspense. But it’s been over for some time. One pictures Irving fishing a champagne (or, sorry: sparkling grape juice) bottle out of a tub of lukewarm water this afternoon.

Of course, the Rookie of the Year award is sort of useless anyway. Irving joins an impressive fraternity of All-Stars, of past and future Hall of Famers, but in and of itself, the award doesn’t tell us anything other than that Irving was the best first-year player in the league. Which: duh. Perhaps I’m drugged by disillusionment as I saw LeBron lift his third MVP trophy with an expression that said, “Thanks for the award and all, but I know this doesn’t matter.” Most everyone in the building agreed.

In this way, awards are dually unimportant. They are not descriptive nor are they ultimately much more than living room cabinet decorations. They’re cool, sort of. If I were invited to Kyrie Irving’s home, I would probably ask to see his Rookie of the Year trophy. I would hold it for about two minutes, make an awkward joke about how he should paint his fresh-as-hell goatee onto the Jerry West logo, then we would resume talking about more interesting stuff. Because awards are really just the result of “Who’s the Best?” debates among writers and journalists, and “Who’s the Best?” debates are often an exercise in polemics. It’s entirely possible—and common, just read the various list- and debate-happy NBA sites and blogs out there—to have an extended argument about Tyson Chandler vs. Dwight Howard for Defensive Player of the Year without doing much besides listing resumés and tagging every other sentence with “in my opinion.”

Kyrie Irving is a special type of player—talented enough, young enough—who intermittently illuminates how inconsequential opinions about the NBA are in relation to the fluorescent streaks of skill that happen on the court. We can talk somewhat usefully about a lot of stuff, but talking about the moment when Irving dives into the lane off a pick, shows the ball to the best player in the league, then switches hands, double-clutches, and lays it in is futile. Seriously: try to be articulate about that thing. What’s great is that we get to talk about his highlights in incomprehensible shrieks and about Kyrie Irving as an electrifying talent like we did with Blake Griffin last year. He has only, as of yet, exceeded expectations. There’s no need to figure out his place in the natural order of point guards because we’re just so damned happy he’s here.

Which is why I can say Kyrie Irving reminds me of Derrick Rose without bothering to project if he’s going to be a better player in four or five years. Rose and Irving’s games don’t heavily overlap, but they are both characterized by their surface calm. Neither one of them are particularly demonstrative on the court; their visages crack only when something momentous has happened, and even then, we glimpse into them through hair-sized fractures. If you watch more than a couple quarters of a nationally-televised Bulls game, you will hear Mike Tirico praise Rose’s “professionalism” and how “he just loves to work hard.” These are, sure, admirable traits, but while I blandly admire Rose’s commitment to never saying anything interesting in interviews, I like him because of the instances in which his competitiveness boils him into human steam—the gentle nudge of an opponent or the sharp, short fist pump after an and-one. Rose is the laconic protagonist in a revenge thriller. He relishes these moments of invincibility, even if he uses the word “team” eight times in three minutes while talking to Doris Burke after the buzzer.

Irving is similarly calm, though his stoicism occasionally splinters to reveal a not-quite-boisterous joy. I get a sense that he loves nothing more than making an obnoxiously impossible lay-in or throwing a behind-the-head assist, even if he only does it once or twice per game. He doesn’t go out of his way to paint a Kandinsky with his body, but when he does, a grin leaks out as if to remind the world that, yes, through his veins run ice but also sugar and confetti. He’s like if a glacier could dance.

LeBron James, while dutifully lifting the MVP trophy over his head, appeared uncomfortably appreciative because, while his award doesn’t mean much, it feels like it should. That slight puzzlement on ‘Bron’s face is because we apparently took a wrong turn somewhere along the astral plane. Shouldn’t Sunday have been another legacy-cementing moment for one of the greatest players ever? Instead, it felt like a guy postponing his birthday party. But we find it difficult to celebrate breathtaking talent when it has not yet realized greatness. We will celebrate LeBron once he wins a title, but commemorating the remarkable season he just had feels, in the eyes of many… myopic? (I’m trying to crawl inside the mind of the Other here.)

But then myopia is what happens when one is truly engaged with a game. The thrill you experience when a man jumps clear over another man and throws down an alley-oop. LBJ is consistently amazing. It’s a shame we have trouble talking about how spectacular he is without appending elipses and caveats. We should remind ourselves to occasionally shut up and enjoy watching this freak play basketball. So too, should we celebrate Kyrie Irving, but that’s an easier task. Irving isn’t yet building a legacy; he’s just a delightful rook with fly facial hair. He’s also the fourth-youngest player in the NBA. He lead the league in crunch time scoring. And what does that mean for his future? I don’t know. That’s part of the joy of watching a young talent emerge. Irving needn’t mean anything. He is free to speak in the language of ambient music and lightning bugs. He’s the MVP of my heart. Do it to ‘em, Mr. Full Court.