Kyrie Irving said he wants a matchup with Kemba Walker.
But when it comes down to it, which NBA All Star point guard would you take? There's a case for each. I talked to SI writer Ben Pickman and "The Fantasy Exec" Corey Parson to get their answers and the verdict was split.
Pickman's case for Kemba: Well, I certainly think the Celtics appear to be happier with Kemba Walker over Kyrie Irving. And while both 2012 draft picks were selected in the same year and Kyrie might have a slight statistical advantage over Kemba, there are two main differences I would say between them that take me to Kemba Walker's side. I think one is durability and the other culture. Walker has played more than a full season and a half of games more than Kyrie. If you're going to build the team around someone, you frankly need them to stay on the court. As for culture, and this is a long list, and I don't want to name every single thing, but Kyrie Irving seems to have a negative or adverse impact on a team's culture. He hasn't won as the best guy and we've seen frustration from a lot of his teammates after he leaves. And so for those two reasons, more than anything else, despite Kyrie making one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history, I think you have to go with Kemba as someone who you want to have as a part of your franchise.
Parson's case for Kyrie: It's easy for us to sit up here and play armchair general manager and say that. Ben makes excellent points about the durability and the culture. But when you look at basketball skills alone, it's going to be hard to go against Kyrie Irving. You see the ball handling, along with his ability to drive the lane and knock down shots. The clutch gene is there too as he hit the biggest bucket, in my opinion, in NBA history. He can be kind of an oddball off the court, but pound for pound, Kyrie Irving is one of the most skilled basketball players this generation has ever seen. He's the guy young kids want to play like. They'll all tell you. And Kyrie is an NBA champion, six-time All Star and Olympic gold medalist. When you boil it down, Kyrie is more skilled so you deal with the rest.
Final Verdict: Kemba Walker fits in better but Kyrie Irving stands out more. So perhaps on a day to day basis, you would choose Kemba. But in money time, Kyrie has been the best player on the floor for stretches against the titans of the NBA. So I might have to lean his way, especially if the team has another superstar to provide leadership.