Kyrie Irving is developing into the team leader in Brooklyn that the Celtics hoped he would be last year, according to Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report. Irving frequently strategizes with Nets coach Kenny Atkinson during games and has taken a proactive approach in helping his teammates improve. Although he has missed the last eight games with a shoulder impingement, Irving has made a difference on the court as well. He’s averaging a career best 28.5 points and 7.2 assists per game and is leading all NBA players in “clutch” points.
Veteran Garrett Temple knew Irving was special, which is why he chose to sign with Brooklyn when he had numerous other offers. Sources tell Scotto that the Nuggets, Wizards, Cavaliers and Pelicans all expressed interest in Temple.
“Any time you go to a different team, and you don’t get traded there and choose to go to a different team when you’re a star, you have a chance to not right wrongs but become the person that you want to be,” Temple said. “It’s kind of a clean slate. The league is kind of a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately type of league anyway. Kyrie comes here, and if he’s the person I’ve seen the last four weeks, then all of those pundits are going to change their tune because he’s been here since Labor Day, we’ve been working out, and he’s been a great leader. He hasn’t tried to show up any young guys. He’s been a hard worker doing his thing, and when you win, it cures a lot of ills too. He said he failed as a leader. He’s going to try to change that, and he recognizes that.”
There’s more from Brooklyn:
- Atkinson said Irving has been able to begin “on-court work,” tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Although Irving has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game, Atkinson calls it a positive step toward his eventual return.
- Brooklyn will face a difficult roster decision when Wilson Chandler returns on December 15, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The Nets signed Iman Shumpert when they were permitted to temporarily add a 16th player after Chandler served the first five games of his 25-game ban. Shumpert has played well, which means Brooklyn may decide to unload someone else to make room for Chandler.
- Jarrett Allen has improved nearly every part of his game in his third NBA season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Allen is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds and leading the league in field goal percentage, but free throws remain a problem. Lewis suggests that Allen can learn from free agent addition DeAndre Jordan, who has steadily improved after starting his career as a poor shooter from the line.