Celtics’ Kyrie Irving No. 21 on SI’s Top 100 NBA players of 2018 list

Sports Illustrated’s “The Crossover” has revealed its list of the Top 100 NBA Players of 2018 and new Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving ranks at No. 21.

New Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving comes in at No. 21The Crossover’s Top 100 NBA players of 2018 list.

One of the most explosive point guards in the game, Irving joins the Celtics as the primary star.

Unlike his time in Cleveland playing alongside LeBron James, Irving will get his chance to shine on a more consistent basis.  Though a better scorer than Isaiah Thomas, he will have some tough shoes to fill as IT was a fan favorite.

Teaming up with a scorer like Gordon Hayward should take some of the pressure off, but if the Celtics don’t show the kind of heart they did with Thomas leading the way, Irving will hear it from Boston fans and media.

Can he handle it?

That will be one of the questions entering the 2017-19 season.  As of now, he is very excited to join Brad Stevens’ team and has an opportunity to really show his star power.  At the moment, he is definitely a top 25 player, but in the right atmosphere and with the right amount of motivation, he should be a top 10 player when all is said and done.

Here is what Ben Golliver of The Crossover said about Kyrie Irving:

“Leave it to one of basketball’s most polarizing stars to fully lean into the scrutiny by making the most heavily-debated trade request the NBA has seen in years. Irving (25.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.8 APG) had good reasons to want out of Cleveland: He’s 25 and ready to be The Man, he’s already a champion, and LeBron James’s future with the Cavaliers isn’t guaranteed. But he had good reasons to stay too: Cleveland was a near-lock to return to a fourth straight Finals in 2018, he had just enjoyed the top-scoring and highest-usage season of his career, and stars and role players alike have flocked to play with James for years. Irving isn’t just striking out on his own in Boston, he’s ditching one of the greatest players ever and setting up an instant rivalry with his former team.”

Golliver also highlighted Irving’s top ball-handing skills and how gifted he is as a scorer.  Boston Celtics fans saw this firsthand during the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

What we also saw was Irving’s knack of injury.  Although he bounced back in that game, he does have a history of missing games due to injury.  While the injury concern surrounded Isaiah Thomas, Irving also has some concern.

Along with health, a question Golliver presents is whether Irving could become the team’s defining personality.  It appears the answer is yes, but that also depends on how successful the Celtics are with Irving leading the way.

 Irving should be higher

I really can’t argue players like Klay Thompson and John Wall ranked ahead of Kyrie Irving, but Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley?

While playing second fiddle to King James in Cleveland, the four-time All Star has been a proven finisher and a player capable of taking over a game at any point during the game.

I don’t think there is anyone who would argue that Irving is a better player than Lowry, but his complete game is probably what had him ranked a couple positions ahead of Irving.

Although underrated, Conley is a head scratcher at No. 18.  Irving is certainly more dynamic than both Lowry and Conley, but perhaps the other areas of his game has him behind these veterans.  One of these areas is defense.

If he buys into Brad Stevens approach to defense, Kyrie Irving will be closer to a top 10 player very soon.