Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 12/21/11
CLEVELAND -- Im back, which means you can plan on reading me gush about rookie point guard Kyrie Irving in my latest batch of Cavaliers observations: Irving probably wasnt as impressive in Tuesdays 90-89 loss to visiting Detroit as he was in the first preseason game (or Wine & Gold Scrimmage, for that matter). But one thing I've noticed about the kid is when hes on the floor, the entire atmosphere changes for both teams. The Cavs just ran a little smoother and the Pistons were forced to defend a little harder. Basically, when Irving is on the floor, the opposing team has someone it needs to pay close attention to at all times. Thats not something you could say about the Cavs during last seasons bad dream. Prior to the draft, Irving had drawn some comparisons to Chris Paul (now with the Clippers). I can see that. But more than anything, I can see that Irving has a style all his own. Hes unique in the sense that he has a very strong mid-range game, capable of scooting his way inside the 3-point line for a pull-up jumper or one-handed push shot. In that sense, he reminds me a little of Suns star Steve Nash, as Irving has a way of tricking taller defenders into thinking they can block his shot, then confidently sinking a floater over their out-stretched arms. And just wait until Irving starts hitting shots from the perimeter. He failed to make a 3-pointer in the two-game preseason (0-for-7), but thats not normal. Thats just a young man adjusting to the NBA. Instead, he made 50 percent of his threes during his 11 games at Duke, a sign that he can knock it down when his feet are set. Getting rid of those rookie jitters will help, too. Although he did look much more relaxed Tuesday than last week in Detroit. Irving told me his biggest transition to the NBA hasnt been the size or the speed of the players, but the spacing of the offensive sets. Hell never be a lockdown defender -- but the effort is there (Cavs coach Byron Scott demands it), and once Irving gets used to defending pro-style plays, he will likely improve in this area, too. I keep thinking back to something Samardo Samuels said at practice last week when talking about Irving. Samuels said, There will be a lot of oohs and aahs at the Q this year. After two preseason games, I can say Samuels is right on. That, more than anything, is what Irving is likely to bring this season. He will give fans reason to want to watch. The victories will come later, once Irving and fellow rookie Tristan Thompson develop. OK, Amico loves Irving. That much you know. But I also think highly of Thompson, his high energy and athleticism at the power forward position. I admit, he is more skilled than I suspected when the Cavs drafted him three spots behind Irving, or No. 4 overall. Irving finished with 11 points on 5-for-12 shooting. He made two highlight-reel layups, passed for three assists (two of which were fantastic) and grabbed two rebounds. Thompson scored eight to go with five boards. The third newcomer is Omri Casspi. This is his third NBA season, and Scott said Tuesday that Casspi has the edge to start at small forward (over Alonzo Gee). Casspi was terrific vs. the Pistons, scoring a team-high 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting. He also grabbed five rebounds and compiled one big and nasty blocked shot. Basically, Casspi does a lot of things well, and I have a hard time figuring out how he got demoted from starter to backup last season in Sacramento. Sometimes, guys just dont fit. But its still probably best to be cautious. Usually, coaches dont bench guys if guys are helping them win. Maybe Cleveland will give Casspi the fresh start he may have needed. It sure looks that way early. The Cavs are done with the preseason. They open the regular season Monday at home vs. Toronto. Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO
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