Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, memorably introduced himself to the Thunder by captaining the Cavs to a six-point win inside Chesapeake Energy Arena last season. Cleveland's victory snapped the Thunder's 14-game home winning streak. Irving controlled the game, at the start and down the stretch, like a 10-year veteran. In reality, he was just a 19-year-old pup who had played only 11 career college games because of a torn ligament in his toe.
He finished that game — the only meeting between the two teams last year because of the lockout-shortened season — with nine points, six rebounds, 12 assists and three steals. But that stat line doesn't tell the full story of how Irving picked apart the Thunder, using his ball-handling and pinpoint passing to make every one of his teammates threats.
“I'm from the east coast and I'm all about dribbling moves and creating your own shot. And that's what he does to the T,” Durant said. “He's got one of the best handles in the league; on the run, cross between the legs, spin, left-hand layup. He's one of the best finishers.
“To be a 6-3 guard and so strong and athletic, it's rare. It's only a few. Him, (Derrick) Rose, Russell (Westbrook), it's only a few of those guys like that. And to be a 20-year-old guy trying to lead an organization, I really like that and they're moving in the right direction.”