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NBA Draft 2011: Kyrie Irving Profile

As you should probably know by now, the Cleveland Cavaliers possess the #1 and #4 picks in next Thursday's NBA Draft. Coming off of one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Cavaliers will turn to the draft to help revitalize the club. With the first overall pick in the draft, the Cavs seem to have narrowed it down to two options. They can either go with point guard out of Duke, Kyrie Irving, or SF/PF out of Arizona, Derrick Williams. In my opinion, the Cavs are leaning about 80-20 in favor of Irving and that's the way I think it should be. Since you might hear Kyrie's name called on Thursday night, it's probably a good idea to find out what you're getting.

Irving is a 19 year old point guard from Duke. At the NBA Combine he measured 6'4" and weighed in at 191 pounds. One of the main concerns regarding Irving is the fact that a toe injury sidelined him for most of his season at Duke. He managed to play in only 11 games, but was mighty impressive when he did take the court. He averaged 27.5 minutes per game as a freshmen and tallied 17.5 PPG along with 4.3 assists per game. As you may know, this draft class is being called exceptionally weak by most experts and scouts due to the lack of a surefire superstar. While there may not be a John Wall or Blake Griffin this year, the Cavs can certainly acquire a solid player in Kyrie Irving. 

Another post will go more in depth about Derrick Williams, but allow me to make my case for Irving as the first overall pick. The thing that sets Irving apart from Williams is the fact that he is a safer pick. While some may want to opt for the player with higher upside and superstar potential, the Cavaliers are in no position to whiff in this draft and need to make sure that the players they pick can succeed in the NBA. Derrick Williams may possess the ability to become the face of a franchise, but he also has the potential to be a huge bust. There are very few scenarios that I can imagine in which Irving does not stay an above average point guard in the Eastern Conference for sometime. 

Irving has a legitimate NBA body at 6'4" and is quick and athletic. He may not have the athleticism of a Derrick Rose or John Wall, but he showed in college that he can get to and finish at the rim. It should also be stated that Irving plays the style of a "true point guard". What does that mean, you say? It means he isn't a score-first guard. He looks to pass and facilitate. The importance of a solid floor general for a rebuilding team cannot be overstated. That is the deciding factor, in my opinion. It is obvious that the Cavs' rebuilding process will last at least a couple of years and by placing a reliable point guard at the head of the offense, it will be that much easier to return to relevance and raise the play of current and future Cavaliers. Along with a high basketball IQ and the ability to run an offense effectively, Irving has a plus jump shot with significant range. He shot 46.2% from downtown last year in college and 52.9% overall. 

Ultimately, Kyrie Irving may not be the franchise player that teams hope to draft, but he will almost certainly be a very good NBA point guard. Irving is very good at virtually every aspect of his position but it remains to be seen if he is exceptional at any of them. The lack of a standout skill will likely prevent Irving from ever being a superstar, but in a weak draft class, I'm sure the Cavaliers will be happy to start their reconstruction with a very good point guard prospect in Kyrie Irving.