Blog Entry

Duke's Kyrie Irving still the right pick at No. 1

Posted on: March 25, 2011 2:14 am
Edited on: March 25, 2011 2:27 am
Duke University was bounced out of the NCAA tournament, but Blue Devils point guard Kyrie Irving should still be the 2011 NBA Draft's No. 1 pick. Posted by kyrie-irvingBen Golliver.

The Arizona Wildcats bounced the Duke Blue Devils from the NCAA tournament on Thursday with a resounding 93-77 victory. The blowout nature of the loss and the disappointment of not repeating will likely bring about a lot of questions for the Blue Devils. Would Duke have been better off leaving point guard Kyrie Irving, who had missed months with a toe injury, out of the rotation? Should Irving come back for another season to exact revenge after such a disappointing defeat? 

One thing that shouldn't be questioned: Irving, who finished with a team-high 28 points, three assists and a steal in 31 minutes off the bench, should be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft if he decides to declare. While he wasn't the best player on the court on Thursday night -- that honor goes to dominant Arizona forward Derrick Williams, who put up 32 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block, plus some insane highlight-reel dunks  -- he is the best pro prospect, the smart money pick at the top of the board. Here's three good reasons why.

1. He has a position and it's an impact position

Iriving -- listed at 6'2" and 180 or 185 -- has solid size for the point guard position but, more importantly, he is equipped with the mentality that separates the league's best young point guards from the pack. He's opportunistic, he understands the importance of an offensive system and he isn't afraid to call his own number -- all in one package. 

There's no concern here, as there is with countless other prospects, about whether he's a combo guard, a swing forward or a two-position/no-position post player. He is a point guard in size, skillset and temperament, at least by our modern definition which requires the floor general to be able to fill it up when necessary too. Ask the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Hornets how important that combination is to team success.

2. He can shoot and he exercises good shot selection

Efficiency is one of those late-developing traits, an ability that sometimes just never shows up. While Irving does need to clean up some issues with his turnovers, his 9-15 shooting from the field on Thursday was typically excellent, bolstered by his ability to get to the foul line nine times as well. Irving has an innate ability to understand what's a good shot and the restraint to lay off lower-percentage looks that you don't often find from a player his age. This will speed his transition into the NBA game and also, I think, make him a bigger impact player more quickly than some might give him credit for because he's not a jaw-dropping, freak athlete.

3. Defensive intangibles

Arizona's guards got off a little bit on Thursday, but there was plenty to like from Irving's defense. He's quick side-to-side, he's comfortable picking up ball pressure well outside the college three, he trusts his positioning and he doesn't succumb to "happy feet". Off the ball, he's an active participant in defensive schemes, calling out switches and talking regularly. He shows a commitment to leadership on both ends that you don't often see.  He's also just a generally "locked in" player who will have the ability to command respect. 

Final Thoughts

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey recently said that his team considers flaws as much as it does strengths in evaluating prospects. Irving is simply absent of the most common flaws that trip up prospects. As discussed, there are no questions about his position, his intelligence or basketball intelligence, his commitment, his body, or his work ethic. And then, on top of that clean package, he's a player that can shoot and seems to enjoy working hard on defense. There's too much to like.

Irving's flaws -- whether he lacks John Wall's open court ability or Derrick Rose's strength -- are relatively small, of the nitpicking variety. At the top of the draft board, a guaranteed home run is a better play than a potential grand slam. Irving is a guaranteed home run.
Category: NBA

Since: Mar 26, 2011
Posted on: March 26, 2011 3:59 pm

Duke's Kyrie Irving still the right pick at No. 1

cavs trade their 2nd round pick to the celtics not their lottery pick they just got from the clippers get serious! hahah

Since: Aug 27, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2011 5:16 pm

Duke's Kyrie Irving still the right pick at No. 1

Actually 1ohiofan, the celtics have it now and it is a top 10 protected pick, so if the pick that the celts now have is in the top 10 the Clippers gettit.

Since: Mar 25, 2011
Posted on: March 25, 2011 4:01 pm

Duke's Kyrie Irving still the right pick at No. 1

Why is everyone bringing up the Clippers pick? They don't have one, it went to the Cavs with the Mo, Davis trade. The Cavs will have 2 top 10 picks and I would think that if Kyrie's available they will take him.

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: March 25, 2011 11:42 am

Duke's Kyrie Irving still the right pick at No. 1

If he leaves he will be the first or second pick.  The Wizards are the only lottery team that passes on him.  Baron Davis is a drain on any team at this point and if the Cavs passed on Kyrie simply because they have Baron that would be the worst move in franchise history short of not getting Lebron's deal done. 

Mo Williams is not the future PG for the Clippers and the T-Wolves would trade Rubio in a heartbeat if Kyrie fell to them.  The Kings use Tyreke as a SG half the time anyway so no problems there and if you know anything about basketball you would know that Jose Calderon has worn out his welcome in Toronto and they have been trying to move him for over a year.

I think he should come back one more year simply because of the potential lockout.  He would team up with Austin Rivers (his boy) and would make another run at a title.

Either way his future looks bright and Harrison Barnes hasn't done enough to leap Kyrie in the draft yet especially based on the fact that Kyrie is a PG and great PG's are few and far between.  Barnes could do it if he could somehow lead UNC to the final four but he's not even a lock to come out this year.

Since: Feb 1, 2009
Posted on: March 25, 2011 10:00 am

Duke's Kyrie Irving still the right pick at No. 1

How can you say that Irving should be the #1 overall pick when most of the Lottery teams already have a point guard.

Cleveland has Baron Davis, and his hefty contract for a couple more years
Washington just drafted John Wall last year, who will likely be 2nd to Griffin for ROY
Toronto - Not sure about Jose Calderon, but apparently he's well respected.
Minnesota drafted 3 point guards 2 years ago. Would they draft a 4th one because of questions regarding Ricky Rubio?
Sacramento has Tyreke Evans, but it can be argued that they could move him to SG
Detroit seems content with Stuckey. Fan favorite.
Milwaukee - Jennings, LA Clippers - Gordon, Mo Williams

The only teams that needs a point guard in the lottery are Indiana and Utah. If Irving is not guaranteed a top spot, why would he come out after 1 years (1 month of playing) into a league that may be locked out next season?

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: March 25, 2011 9:15 am

Duke's Kyrie Irving still the right pick at No. 1

i dont know, he's def a top three pick but its gonna be hard for teams to pass on harrison barnes now that he is showing what he can do. 

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