2. Kyrie Irving
Having only played 20 games with the Mavericks after he was dealt from the Brooklyn Nets last season at the trade deadline, Kyrie Irving has looked much more comfortable in this initial juncture of the season with the Mavericks.
Irving has talked a lot about how much a full training camp and preseason would be beneficial toward him getting acclimated in Dallas, and he’s proving that this season despite a rough shooting start to the season. In the same vein as Luka Doncic, Irving’s strides have been made within the margins rather than anything we can tangibly see on a box score.
Irving’s biggest improvement this year is how he and Doncic have been playing far more fluidly through each other. Irving’s shots have already started to come around, so don’t be surprised if a hot stretch thrusts him to a far greater scoring average than the 24.3 points per game, he’s currently averaging.
Irving has also stepped up as a leader in Dallas, and multiple young players within the Mavericks organization have accredited him for leading by example this season. A big point of contention between many national media members was the Mavericks' clutch time woes last season, as Irving and Doncic struggled to win in close contests late in the game in their introductory season with each other last year.
Dallas has completely flipped the script this year, and it can be attributed to how savvy Irving and Doncic have been at playing off of each other late in the game. This was capitalized the other night in the Mavericks' victory over the Los Angeles Lakers when Irving hit the game-winning 3-pointer off an assist from Doncic late in the game.
The Mavericks have still been winning games as they stand at 10-5 now, so as long as Irving’s shooting continues to come around then he’s definitely proving that he is a much more dynamic second star next to Doncic than last season.