Kyrie Irving had himself a great rookie season. It was so greatthat today he was officially honored as the 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year. This marks the second time in Cavaliers history that one of their players has been bestowed the honor, I’ll let you take a stab at who was the first, and was a land slide victory. Kyrie received all but three first place votes. Those other three went to Kawhi Leonard, Iman Shumpert, and Kenneth Faried… Yea, I’m confused too. Regardless, this latest accolade for Irving continues to stoke the fires of hope surrounding the future of this team.
No one really knew what to expect out of Kyrie when the Cavs selected him #1 overall in last years draft. He was an enigma of sorta thanks in large part to playing in only a handful of games during his lone year as a Duke Blue Devil. If you recall, he suffered a freak toe injury and was sidelined for the majority of the year. Because of the lack of film against high-caliber competition, many people, myself included, loudly debated whether or not the Cavs should draft Kyrie or take a stab at Arizona power forward Derrick Williams. In hindsight, we all look like idiots, but in our defense the argument was valid. Kyrie was associated with words like “freak injury” and “health concerns” whereas Williams was dunking on fools left and right in the NCAA Tournament.
It all worked out in the end, however. The Cavs took Kyrie Irving #1 overall and the rest was history. In fact, it ended up being some really good history. By the time the compressed 2012 season was over, Kyrie had played in 55 of the Cavs 66 games, so much for those health concerns, and averaged just a little over 30 minutes per game. Statistically speaking, Kyrie averaged 18 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. When you average his stats out over a per 36 minute basis they jump to 21/6/4 respectively.
Even more impressive were Kyrie’s shooting percentages from the floor, the free throw line, and three-point range where his slash line was .469/.872/.399. That’s absolutely phenomenal. Most young players rely on getting to the basket and taking a large number of higher percentage shots and still struggle to approach those shooting percentages. Kyrie managed to perform that well by mixing an extremely reliable jumper with an uncanny ability to finish at the basket while taking a high level of abuse.
What I’m trying to say, and anyone who watched him play this year should be able to attest to, is that Kyrie Irving looks like a special player. He has the look of a player that is well beyond his years and at the tender age of 19 was able to step in and lead an NBA team full of cast-offs and over the hill guys back to respectability. Sure they finished with the third worst record in the league, but they were competitive. They remained in the playoff hunt longer than anyone thought they would, there were no 26 game losing streaks, and they grew as a team.
In fact, The third worst finish should be almost something of a reward for a job well don this season. The Cavs, along with Kyrie, showed they were on the right track to building another winner and the reward will be another high draft pick to pair along with him. As we get closer to the draft and learn where the Cavaliers will pick, I’ll break down the those most likely to be headed our way. Just know this. Big things are headed to Cleveland people… big things.