One of the league’s rising stars enters his fifth NBA season facing a giant question.
Just when can he step onto the court for the Cavaliers?
Earlier in the month, team officials revealed they believed Irving would return to the court well before January, but after going through light workouts with his teammates, he believes that day may be much sooner.
Only no timetable is in place for when he is expected to make his season debut.
The uncertainty exactly where he is in the rehabilitation process, or when he will be able to play again for the Cavaliers, has produced some hesitancy for fantasy basketball owners as the draft approaches.
Last year, Irving proved he could provide the same elite production for a championship caliber team, shining during his first NBA Finals appearance, as he posted 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Only as he was trying to break free from Curry midway through the overtime session, his knee buckled during a crossover dribble, resulting in a fractured kneecap.
With his season over, the only choice he faced was to undergo surgery and begin the rehab process, originally projected to last between three and four months.
Irving failed to reveal exactly what he is physically capable of performing, but insisted he is progressing and expects to compete soon.
Injuries have been a concern for Irving ever since he stepped onto the national spotlight. When he was a freshman at Duke, he was limited to just 11 appearances as an issue with his big toe kept him sidelined.
Since being selected with the first overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-3 has missed an average of 18 percent of the regular season with a variety of injuries.
So when should fantasy owners start considering Irving, knowing that he is going to miss some time again?
If any of those players are on the board, they have to be taken ahead of Irving.
Irving’s ability to pour in points is what creates the separation from the second tier of players.
Ten times he managed to score 30 or more points last season, with the two highest individual scoring efforts of the season.
Irving exploded for 57 points, five assists and four steals against San Antonio as he made each of his seven attempts from 3-point range. On the night, the three-time All-Star went 20-of-32 from the field, joining Westbrook as the only other player to convert at least 20 field goal attempts in a single game last season.
Two months earlier against the Trail Blazers, he dropped 55 points, along with five assists, four rebound, two steals and sank 11 shots from 3-point range.
In both games, Irving went 10-for-10 at the free throw line.
The 23-year-old has emerged as an elite long range shooter, as he converted a career-best 41.5 percent of his attempts from the field last season, connecting 157 times from 3-point range.
The addition of James has altered the space defenders provide Irving, resulting in him becoming a potent shooter off pull-up dribbles.
Simply bringing the ball up the floor, planting his feet and launching a 3-point shot, Irving managed to convert 37.5 percent of his pull-up jumpers and totaled 484 points off the approach.
While there is some risk in selecting Irving with a first round draft selection, both he and the team anticipates a return to the court within a few weeks of the start of the regular season.
A player with his abilities shouldn’t slip too far.