Niko Regalbuto- The NBA is naturally undergoing some sort of a shift from old to new. With Danny Granger out for most of the season thus far, the young Paul George has been on a tear leading the Pacers to a top seed in the east. Jeff Teague has taken the reigns in Atlanta and is pulling together a solid case for most improved player. Stephen Curry and crew are currently sitting in the 6th seed out west, and of course those two 24-year olds out in Oklahoma City aren’t too shabby themselves. Young talent is seeping through the seems of almost every NBA team, and it’s hard to not look ahead to the bright future of the league. So David, I ask you, if you could have any first or second year player five years from now, who would it be and why?
David Vertsberger- Niko, I’ll have to roll with Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hor- Pelic- whatever. The NBA’s center position is at it’s weakest point in league history, just look at the amount of money spent on players like Omer Asik and Roy Hibbert this summer. With that, I’d be damned not to have a terrific center who’s drawing comparisons to names like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Now although he’s playing power forward now, his optimal position is the five and that’s exactly where I would play him, with more and more teams using “small ball” successfully. Look at some of the centers on NBA championship teams lately: Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, Andrew Bynum. Anthony Davis’s game resonates all three of those names, and he’s in his rookie season. His mid-range shot is already solid, and improving. He’s growing accustomed to defending NBA-level talent and will become the best defensive player in the league well before five years from now. Davis is top-20 in the league in PER and top-10 in BLK%, which seems pretty decent for a rookie who’s already suffered a concussion, stress reaction in his left ankle, and a sprained left shoulder. Who do you have?
Niko- Well, first I’ll say I take issue with a few things you said. Mainly referencing Tyson Chandler and Andrew Bynum in the name of “small ball”, but that isn’t why we’re here. We are here to debate which young player we would take five years from now, and there is no one I would want more than Kyrie Irving. This kid is absolutely amazing, and he’s probably one of the most aesthetically pleasing players in the league. He receives comparisons to the Point God Chris Paul, but the thing is: he has the ability to be Chris Paul (offensively), without everything that limits the Clippers’ All-Star floor general. Standing at 6’3″ he is as tall, if not taller, than every point guard he faces, and his three point shot is already outstanding. His scoring ability is explosive, he plays with the swagger and poise of a vet, and he still can’t even legally buy an alcoholic beverage until later this month.
The problem with choosing between Davis and Irving, who will both be great players in five years time, is that they are drastically different. But we can reference the diminishing value of the center position. With the game being so fast paced, and so much emphasis being placed on perimeter scoring, I’ll take the guy who has a chance to be one of the best scorers in the league.
David- Referencing “small ball” success and providing those names of championship-caliber centers weren’t related, sorry for the confusion. Now, to your argument. First of all, I hate you. So much. Because now I have to debate against my favorite player in the league. Sorry, Uncle Drew. I’ll admit, and this is impossible to argue, Irving is lights out on offense, and unimaginably talented. However, his game doesn’t exactly extend past that. His defense is rather, terrible. Being a one-dimensional player is never good, but in Kyrie’s case his offense is so good that it hardly matters that he makes Luke Ridnour look like Oscar Robertson. Davis on the other hand, will play both sides of the ball. His specialty is obviously defense, but his offense is hardly lacking, as he’s not inept whatsoever on that end. Now if you take a guy that will be one of the best scorers in the league, I’d happily take the guy that’s going to be one of the best defensive anchors in the league. Scorers come into the league left and right, maybe not many as great as Irving at his age, but players that can make a tremendous defensive impact on their team just by being on the floor while being solid on the offensive end are a dime a dozen.
Niko- Well there’s no arguing that. Even if Irving does improve his defense, his defensive ceiling isn’t anywhere close to that of Davis’. But I will argue the notion that great scorers come so often while defending bigs are a rarity. You did say that Kyrie is better than the influx of good scorers, but Kyrie is more than just a scorer. He does it rather efficiently, while dishing dimes with limited talent around him. If the season were to end today, his current statistics would make him just the second 20-year old to ever average more than 23 points, shoot better than 46%, and dish more than five dimes. Only LeBron James has done that at such a young age. Jordan and Isiah Thomas did it at 21, but not 20. To this point in his career this kid’s numbers are comparable to some pretty spectacular talent. While if you look at Davis, his numbers and age are eerily similar to… Andre Drummond.
David- Not comparing their offenses or defenses, but their games as a whole, and Davis has the complete package. Irving can pass, score, and… score. Davis can board, defend, score, and he isn’t half bad at passing for a big man either. Those statistics are indisputably impressive, but I’m pretty sure this debate is on who we’d take in five years, and by then Davis will easily be a much bigger difference maker in this league.
Niko- My point is that the future is such an uncertainty, that we have to make our best judgement call. Davis will probably always have a bigger defensive impact than Irving, but realistically centers typically do impact the game far more than point guards on the defensive end. Defenders like Chris Paul or past-Rondo typically aren’t seen from the point guard position. Hell, Nash couldn’t stop a nose bleed and he won two MVP awards. I’d rather have the guy that can already take over a game, and I’d like to think that in five years his ability to do so will be unparalleled. We’ve already seen Irving single handedly put good teams away (games against the Thunder and Nuggets come to mind). Davis not so much. Could he in five years? Absolutely. But there is a lot of insecurity in predicting the future. The only thing we do know is that both players are absolute franchise changers, and you can’t go wrong with either.