Kyrie Irving has a confession to make: He likes all of his Boston Celtics teammates, and he has for a long time.
Per ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg:
Kyrie on teammates: "I admire all these guys’ talents. They know. They prob won’t tell u but Ive been watching these guys for a long time.” pic.twitter.com/FFxMdPbOZd
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) October 31, 2017
Irving’s comments came after a 108-94 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night, and they’re easy to take out of context. Is he trying to admit he admired the Celtics while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers? Is he just bragging about his basketball knowledge? After all, more than half this Boston roster is new to the fold; is he boasting of his scouting knowledge on Semi Ojeleye?
All of these questions could require an answer in the affirmative. Irving does admit that he studied a lot of these guys before he arrived. But his answer was attempting to explain the Celtics’ acclimation process, because the team in its entirety is basically new to one another.
Boston, remember, turned over nearly two-thirds of its minutes from last season. And then, after going through a training camp with Gordon Hayward, it lost him for the year, ostensibly lengthening what figured to be an already steep learning curve.
The Celtics are doing just fine, though. Their offensive rating continues to hover below the league average, but they’re 5-2, with the best defensive rating in the league, according to NBA.com. That’s not bad for a collective still so new to itself, and its identity, and its pecking order, and its sudden reliance on youngsters like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.