IT was a great Celtic. Last year was my first year with season tickets, and every night I was pumped to see how many points IT would score. The fact that for a long time, he was above 29 ppg and within Larry Bird's 29.9 ppg Celtic record, only added to it. His best game was the 53 points vs. the Wizards in game 2:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtuCH9iLGmk
He has amazing touch on the move within 10 feet of the rim, uses picks and screens well, and creates space on drives probably about as well as any NBA player. He shoots well from 3 and elite from the line.
But if you watch Kyrie's highlights against the defending champ Spurs with Kawhi (a DPOY), Duncan (led NBA in advanced defense metrics in his last NBA season), and Danny Green defending him, the skill level in scoring, shooting off the dribble, and the degree of difficulty and versatility on his scoring drives, he literally exploded off the screen- for 57 points: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXxt8hJbelo
Honestly, watching the IT video, they ran some Ray plays and inside-out passes to get him the 3's he made, he got a lot of Horford screens, he has numerous amazing drives creating space and finishing with ease... but he just doesn't pop off the screen like Kyrie does.
Then you consider that Kyrie was 22 when he dropped 57 points on two of the best defenders in modern NBA history (yes, Duncan was still great at 37-38) and the way he did it- it's amazing. He looks closer to Steph Curry in the ways that he scores with the ball than IT.
Last year Kyrie was only 24. Everyone against Kyrie compares his numbers last year, or what he will do this year, to IT last year. But this year we have a secondary scorer in Hayward, plus Al, plus improved Jaylen and Tatum, so that doesn't seem relevant.
Why not compare IT at 24 to Kyrie at 24? Both played with an alpha scorer and usage guy in Lebron and DMC. It was Isaiah's best year before his first all star year, so it's not cherry picking.
IT - 20.3/6.3/2.9 .574 ts%, 85% ft 35% 3pt 20.5 PER 4.7% trb% 32.2% ast% 26.3 usg%
KI - 25.5/5.8/3.2 .580 ts% 90% ft 40% 3pt 23.0 PER 5.0% trb% 29.7% ast% 30.8% usg%
IT - Offensive win shares: 6.4 , defensive (with better team D): 1.3 = 7.7 total win shares
KI - Offensive win shares: 7.4 (second banana), defensive: 1.5 = 8.9 total win shareshttps://www.basketball-reference.com/players/t/thomais02.htmlhttps://www.basketball-reference.com/players/i/irvinky01.html
I have high expectations for Kyrie this season. I think he's a major upgrade in talent. So even though the C's outperformed their expectation last year, I expect this year's team to improve.