Welcome to another session of S.U Debates. Today we will compare and discuss Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving and Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. Both players rank among the top point guards in the NBA. Lillard is a key member of a Portland Trail Blazers team ranked among the top three teams in the Western Conference while Kyrie Irving is facing yet another disappointing NBA regular season. Both players are All-Star level talent but who is the overall best player? Let the debate begin!
Who is the better Point Guard?
Joe Mays: Lillard is currently a better point guard. One of the big differences is that he was able to develop in college before going pro. While Lillard was learning how to play the point guard position in college, Kyrie only had one injury filled season in college and left to learn how to play in the NBA. The end result helps show how valuable sticking around to play college basketball really is.
Jr. Williams: I’d have to agree with you on this one. Damian Lillard does appear to be the player with the most experience and maturity. Kyrie Irving is a player who virtually came into the NBA with very little college experience and that inexperience has reared its ugly head on several occasions. Lillard is surrounded by a group of highly skilled players and veterans while Kyrie is virtually learning from every mistake he makes. An extra season of college would have certainly helped Irving mature.
Which player would you choose build a franchise around?
Joe Mays: I would build a franchise around Lillard. For me personally, he seems more of a worker between the two. When I say that, I mean that Kyrie has had a lot given to him, while Lillard had to work hard for his. I am also skeptical about Irving’s leadership abilities.
Jr. Williams: I would have to go with Lillard again on this one as he seems to be the more complete point guard, he’s also a very humble player who you could count on to carry the offense. I do however, think that Kyrie is the more aggressive point guard, but in the end, Lillard seems to be the player best suited to run a team.
Which player would you trust with the last shot? Why?
Joe Mays: You can’t go wrong with either one shooting the last shot. Both have shown the willingness and the ability to shoot the last shot. The thing that separates them to me is that Kyrie may dribble around and pick up a double team before shooting. Because of his excessive dribbling, I have to go with Lillard. It also helps that Lillard has a game winner on Kyrie
Jr. Williams: This is a tough question, but again, I would trust Lillard with the last shot for the simple fact that he has proven the ability to make big shots under pressure. He has knocked down several game winning shots already in his young career while Kyrie Irving would have the tendency to over-dribble resulting in a forced shot from a tough position on the court. Irving has to mature, until then, I don’t trust him.
Which player will have a more successful NBA career?
Joe Mays: It is still too early in their careers for me to make a definite prediction on who will have the better career. In the next year, I’ll be looking to see how Lillard adjusts as teams begin to figure him out. I will also look to see how Kyrie adjusts. Many young players begin to struggle once opposing teams figure them out. That makes me ask if that will happen to Lillard next year, and is that what is happening with Kyrie this year?
I do believe that Lillard is closer to reaching his full potential than Kyrie is. He is in a more stable situation. Irving, on the other hand, I do seriously question if he is the modern day Stephon Marbury. He is in a bad situation, but if you watch him play regularly, you will see that he is part of the problem. At some point, you have to own up to your role in the mess, or as they say, “man up.” I am heavily leaning towards Lillard having the better career. Kyrie is going to have to show me that he is not the modern day Marbury for me to change from that stance.
Jr. Williams: Lets keep it real. At this moment right now, I think Lillard is in the best position to experience success over the next few NBA seasons. Kyrie Irving is in a bad situation in Cleveland, including a coach and team which hasn’t taken a positive step forward since the LeBron James era. Lets be honest, as a team the Cavs don’t look to be in a position to win anytime soon, not-to-mention rumors circulating that Irving wants out of Cleveland. In the end, I think Lillard will have the more successful career, baring he stays healthy.
Who would win in a game of one-on-one?
Joe Mays: I believe Kyrie would win a game of one-on-one. He is very athletic, has a nasty crossover, and his shot is deadly. Lot of the things that he needs to work on aren’t a big issue for a game of one-on-one.
Jr. Williams: I would have to go with Kyrie as the winner of a one-on-one game. As I said before, he’s more aggressive on the offensive side of the floor and he could break down virtually any player in the league with his dribble penetration. It would be a close game but Kyrie would take Lillard to school.
Who’s harder to defend, Irving or Lillard?
Joe Mays: Kyrie has an issue with over dribbling, which makes it easy for opposing defenders to double team him. Because of this, he is much easier to defend than Lillard. This will continue to be the case until he learns to move the ball more efficiently.
Jr. Williams: If you asked players around the league I’m sure most of them would say Kyrie Irving is the most difficult guard to defend because of his superior handles coincided with his ability to penetrate to the basket. He has the ability to destroy opponents near the rim, unfortunately, his outside shot is a little suspect when a defender is on him and he can’t shake them loose. Lillard on the other hand is a lights out shooter, if you fail to put a hand in his face, you’re going to pay for it one way or the other.