In the Spotlight: Kyrie Irving

NBA Rookie to NBA All-Star in the space of a season.

At just 20 years of age, Kyrie Irving has been selected as an NBA All-Star in his second season as a pro.

Irving has now been touted as a possible starter following an injury to Rajon Rondo which will rule the Boston Celtics’ guard out for the season. Kobe Bryant was a year younger when he made his NBA All-Star debut in 1998 which shows how impressive Irving’s achievement is.

The Cavs’ guard is building his reputation as ‘Mr. Fourth Quarter’ as he continues to take the responsibility of key shots down the stretch. Most recently Irving scored 13 points of 35 in the last three minutes to inspire Cleveland to a 115-110 victory against Oklahoma.

On 10 occasions so far this season, Irving has posted 30+ points in a game including a career high night in New York when he dropped 41 on the Knicks. These notable statistics help place the young superstar in sixth position for the season’s leading scorers charts with 24ppg. Irving was forced out for three weeks with a finger injury prior to Christmas but has picked up where he left off in recent weeks.

In his first season in the NBA, Irving finished the season with a very respectable points average of 18.5 whilst providing 5.4 assists a game on average. He also earned the MVP honours in the Rising Stars Challenge in which he will compete in again in 2013. Irving‘s rookie season was marred with a broken hand which required during the summer of 2012

The #1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was named NBA Rookie of the Year for 2012 to follow in the footsteps of reigning MVP Lebron James, who also claimed the award in 2004 when he was playing in Cleveland. Since Lebron’s high profile departure, Cleveland have yet to reach the play-offs and will do very well to stop it from being three years in a row. The Cavs had made it beyond the regular season for five straight seasons during James‘ time with the club under Mike Brown.

LBJ moved to Miami and became an NBA Champion within two years and there will be plenty of teams interested in the services of Irving should the opportunity present itself in the future. Surely it’s a case of when and not if with Irving displaying signs of being a potential MVP within five years.

You can follow Kyrie Irving on Twitter: ( @KyrieIrving )

 

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Erik Spoelstra to go head-to-head with Gregg Popovich

Erik Spoelstra was confirmed as the head-coach of the Eastern All-Stars after his Miami side recorded a 100-85 win in Toronto.

Heat are the conference leaders with a 30-14 record which gave 42 year-old Spoelstra the opportunity to be head-coach at an NBA All-Star game for the first time. Meanwhile, his counterpart in Houston will be the experienced Gregg Popovich who earnt his right to lead the Western All-Stars for a third time courtesy of his San Antonio side topping the Western conference heading into February.

‘Coach Pop’ is the longest serving coach in the NBA having taken over as head coach of the Spurs in 1996 and the 64 year-old will have Tony Parker and Tim Duncan at his disposal on February 17th. Joining the San Antonio veterans are the Los Angeles contingent of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin (both Clippers), Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard (both Lakers) with the league’s top scorer Kevin Durant also voted as a starter. Russell Westbrook joins his Thunder compatriot after being chosen as a reserve along with former team-mate, James Harden who will compete on his home floor.

Spoelstra will become the first Miami coach to lead the All-Stars since Stan van Gundy in 2005 and will be surrounded by familiar faces with the ‘Big Three’ all featuring. Reigning NBA MVP LeBron James will start alongside Dwayne Wade while Chris Bosh was chosen as a reserve. Kevin Garnett will make his 15th All-Star appearance (as does Kobe) and was due to start with team-mate Rajon Rondo but the point guard has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Carmelo Anthony completes the list of starters while the reserves include a total of six debutants with Brook(lyn) Lopez replacing Rondo.

The last three times the two coaches have met, Spoelstra and his Heat side have come out on top although Popovich surprised a few people by resting key players in their last meeting. No chance of that happening on this occasion with both teams packed full of superstars.

Rosters in full:

EAST- Starters: (Rajon RONDO), Dwayne WADE; LEBRON James (both HEAT); Carmelo ANTHONY (KNICKS); Kevin GARNETT (CELTICS); Reserves: Jrue HOLIDAY (76ers), Kyrie IRVING (CAVALIERS); Luol DENG (BULLS); Paul GEORGE (PACERS); Chris BOSH (HEAT); Joakim NOAH (BULLS); Brook LOPEZ (NETS); Tyson CHANDLER (KNICKS)

WEST- Starters: Chris PAUL (CLIPPERS); Kobe BRYANT (LAKERS); Kevin DURANT (THUNDER); Blake GRIFFIN (CLIPPERS); Dwight HOWARD (LAKERS); Reserves: Tony PARKER (SPURS); Russell WESTBROOK (THUNDER); James HARDEN (ROCKETS); David LEE (WARRIORS); Tim DUNCAN (SPURS); LaMarcus ALDRIDGE (TRAIL BLAZERS); Zach RANDOLPH (GRIZZLIES)