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Kyrie Irving.

March 23: Kyrie Irving and Jason Kidd share a birthday, but what else?

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March 23 is the birthday of two NBA point guards in totally different phases of their careers.

On the one hand, we have the Melbourne-born Kyrie Irving. At 23-years-old, the resident at the Cleveland Cavaliers one spot is known for having some of the best handles in the league today.

On the other hand, we have Jason Kidd. 42-years-old today, the now-Milwaukee Bucks coach was a constant triple-double threat throughout his 20-year-career and finished up with 107 regular season stat-stuffing nights.

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As a 10-time All-Star, 2011 NBA Champion, five-time All-NBA First Team, four-time All-Defensive First Team and five-time assist leader, Kidd undoubtedly has a lot that Irving should want to aspire to.

But how similar are they?

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In some ways, their careers are drawing some interesting parallels. Irving was the number one draft pick in 2011 while back in 1994 some 17 years earlier, Kidd was picked number two.

Both men ended up with Rookie of the Year honors after their debut campaigns and with Irving at 6'3" and Kidd 6'4", both point guards have similar stature.

Now in his fifth season in Cleveland, Irving's offensive talents have never been in question. The former Duke standout has excellent drive and dribbling skills to make himself quality looks, and more often than not he makes his opponents pay.

Irving has averaged 20.8 points an outing over the first five seasons of his career, but this year's average of 19.6 is his lowest since his rookie season.

Los Angeles Lakers v Cleveland Cavaliers

Kidd didn't produce those numbers in his first five years, but his rebounding and assisting in his debut campaign was significantly better than anything Irving has produced through his whole NBA tenure.

Keep in mind, that production came in Kidd's third least productive campaign in his 20-year career, when playing 60 games or more in a regular season. 


What does that say about Irving? His influence on the Cavs has dropped off since LeBron James made his way back to Ohio; the proof is in the numbers. Is the presence of King James - commonly revered as one of the greatest all-around players on earth - stifling the burgeoning talent?

That never seemed to matter to Kidd. The California-native meshed seamlessly with Steve Nash in Phoenix and Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, and he was the true superstar frontman for a Brooklyn Nets outfit who had no business in the postseason before he started driving the team.

Steve Nash #13

Whether he was a supporting cog or the leading man - like he was in 2002 with the Nets when he finished second to Tim Duncan in the MVP voting - Kidd always made sure he could make an impact for his side.

It could be argued Irving needs to learn that aspect of the game and not rely on the thrill of scoring. There's been plenty of speculation that the trio of Irving, James and Kevin Love cannot play together in a cohesive, effective way.

That's hard to believe given the talent and spread of attributes they possess. Could Irving be getting a little bit of DeAndre Jordan syndrome from last summer and he wants to be the leading man? That sounds more plausible, if anything.

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets

The legendary Kidd has more stats to his name too, also ranking second in playoff triple-doubles with a career total of 11. After two decades on the hardwood, he also ranked second on the NBA all-time lists in career assists and steals, as well as fifth in the 3-point field goals made.

Kidd was a polished, refined point guard who was dedicated to effecting the game in as many areas as possible. The closest modern day guard to Kidd is the Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook, who is currently on a three-game streak of triple-doubles which takes his tally for the season up to 15; leaving him tied with another certain man's season best, Michael Jordan.

It's worth noting the 'Greek Freak' Giannis Antetokounmpo is under Kidd's tutelage right now and after being deployed at point guard, he has exploded with four triple-double games since the All-Star break having previously owned none.

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics

Can Irving get to these levels? At 23-years-old, he is still a young man in this league and working with one of the greatest players of this era and possibly all-time in James; there's arguably not a better competitor to learn from than him.

Irving has to figure it out, though, His next few years will determine whether he's a nice contributor on the offensive end, or if he's a game-changing guard like Kidd was. The Bucks' coach has paved the way, it's Irving's call if he wants to walk it and make his own tracks.

Topics:
Eastern Conference
NBA
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Milwaukee Bucks
Kyrie Irving

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