Blog Entry

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

Posted on: June 17, 2011 1:23 am
Edited on: June 17, 2011 3:46 pm
Posted by Matt Moore

So the Cavs manage to hit the jackpot, win the lottery, and have a legitimate chance to start over. They've got a No.1 overall pick, the kind of asset that can become the next franchise player to lead a Cavalier rebirth, getting people excited about the team, taking them to the playoffs and eventually abandoning them leaving them crushed on national television.

Okay, that sounded mean. The point I'm trying to make, dear Ohioans, is that there's no way you get LeBron'd again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime screw-job and if Irving works out ability-wise, you don't have to worry about the utter demolition again thanks to ego and hubris. Now all you have to worry about is whether Kyrie Irving really is a franchise player.

At some point the overall diminished value of the draft started to have a weird effect on Irving's value. Despite the fact that Irving has been considered the top overall prospect since last summer when he blew doors off hinges in summer exhibitions, the fact that so many top players dropped out before next week's draft has somehow left Irving being considered less than other top picks.

The doubt isn't completely without merit. After all, Irving did miss most of his freshman year with an injury before returning for the NCAA tournament. If you don't think that can be a bad omen, please find the nearest Portland Trail Blazer Fan Support Group and sit in for a session. ESPN recently noted that Irving's assists decreased and turnovers increased in his latter games versus his earlier outings.

But given the context of Irving's games in terms of increased intensity on little to no practice and integration back into the team from injury, you have to look beyond just the metrics and more into the play style and approach. And both of those elements support the idea that Irving's going to be incredibly successful and well worth that Cavs pick.

Comparing a player to Chris Paul is pretty daring and will cause a great amount of "Whoa, ho, settle down there!" comments because, well, everyone freaks out if you qualitatively compare an unproven player to a player with high quantitative value. In other words, if you say that a patch of grass is like a $100 bill because they're both green, people freak out because the grass isn't worth the buck, despite that not being your point at all. You'll find the same phenomenon when you talk about LeBron James' post game, comparative religious philosophies and reality television shows.

But when you start to analyze Irving's game, you begin to figure out how those comparisons come about. Irving shows the smoothness of Paul's game, as well as the oh-so-rare established jumper entering the league. Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, all of the elite point guards of the last few years taken first at their position have lacked that jumper, with really only Stephen Curry a notable top point guard taken with the J already established. Irving on the other hand has a silk stroke but isn't just a shooter. He's got the playmaking ability. While he doesn't have Paul's vision (who does?), again, we're talking about qualitative ability, and Irving can play in CP3's role, even if he's not as incredible.

One of the minus points on Irving in comparison to Rose and the other Calipari star guards is Irving's limited athleticism. But really, it's only limited in comparison to those other super-freak athletes, and Irving has a shorter distance to go in terms of polish. While Irving doesn't have the straight-line speed of the other elite point guards, he does have great quickness which is just as valuable in the half-court set.

Beyond all this though, is an attitude that is key in establishing a franchise-player quality prospect. In the NCAA tournament, Irving had every reason to be passive, returning for the first time in months to an established team with more senior stars. Instead, Irving immediately gave the Blue Devils the necessary spark to make it as far as they did, even with Derrick Williams crashing the party (and making his own claim to that No.1 spot). Irving made plays at both ends, converting steals into scores and knocking down transition 3-pointers. (Imagine that, a point guard with range, in this day and age.)

The Cavaliers could use a player who doesn't have the kind of ego their last mega-star did. They could use a player who can make his teammates better without operating a frequency that makes him difficult to play with. They could use a player who can immediately act as a scoring threat and run the offense efficiently. Are Irving's turnovers a concern? They were a concern for all the great point guards in their first season (and continue to be for the MVP). They're a product of usage. And while Irving isn't the most pure of all point guards, he's still capable of running an offense. That's a different type of building block. Coaches constantly talk about consistency. Irving's curve for consistency is much shorter than other prototypes.

Maybe his highlight reel isn't as flashy, or his athleticism as knock-your-socks-off. But if we're examining talent and capability, Irving shows every sign of being the franchise player the Cavaliers need him to be. Now all they need is to take him. If they don't, with Minnesota committed to Ricky Rubio... chaos breaks out in the draft really quickly.

Irving began the year as the top overall pick in the mock drafts. When Thursday night rolls around, it should be his name said first, and the Cavs should feel good about trusting him with the wheel of the fortune-ravaged franchise.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: June 21, 2011 8:42 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

I think Irving is the one cant miss guy in this draft. If Coach K handed over the team to a freshman, he must be special. The game film there is of Irving suggests he has great hands, great handle, and a nice stroke. He also seems smart. Williams is a tweener who is being highly overvalued by the less knowledgable --- Id say Kanter is the next best, then Kemba or Vesely, and then williams. Kemba is a tough kid, great speed, fearless, but he's 5 11 1/2. there is just so much even tim hardaway could do because of size. And he's not Iverson. vesley is a cross between Kirilenko and Kevin Durant (without nearly KD's shot...but he goes to the hoop in the same way). Ive watched Vesely in europe (where i live part of the year and teach) and he is one of the few Euro players with attitude. Reminds me of danny ainge. He's 6 11. He is tough.  kanter is big. Not quite as big as you'd like though, which is my one concern. He's 6 10, not 7 1". But he is strong, has a great first step, and terrific hands. He's going to play right away. Williams is going to have a problem guarding quick threes. He sure as hell cant guard fours.  But he will score for sure. He can do that on anyone. And then Jimmer. I think Jimmer is going to be pretty useful....maybe even very good. Watch that 52 point game against SD state and Kawhi Leonard. Just flew past him.

Since: Jan 23, 2009
Posted on: June 20, 2011 9:13 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

Cleveland: DERRICK WILLIAMS.  And then take whomever falls into your lap at #4 Irving/Knight/Walker, I would take a gamble on Walker, dude has the heart of a lion.

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2011 10:09 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

The kid's name is Brandon KNIGHT, not Wright.  If you learn the players' names then maybe people will actually take your posts seriously.

And this whole Kemba Walker being better than Kyrie Irving is a joke.  Irving is the most talented player in this draft period. 

Since: Oct 28, 2006
Posted on: June 17, 2011 6:54 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

If Cleveland like Derrick Williams at all they should take him first. I really doubt the T-Wolves are going to take a guard with Rubio coming over and that should leave Irving, unlikely at no.4, or Wright. Is Irving that much better than Wright? I don't think so, and let's face it, Duke players haven't exactly been light up the NBA. I'd take Williams and land Wright at no. 4. T-Wolvwes probably take Kanter and Utah will take Irving giving the Cavs Wright and maybe even the best guard in the draft.

Since: Jan 8, 2007
Posted on: June 17, 2011 6:30 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

I like Walker better than Irving - and he can be had with the 4th pick or even lower.  I would pass on Irving, take another need or even trade the #1 pick, and select Walker at #4.  I guarantee Walker will be at least comparable to Irving if not better.  You can't teach heart and stepping up in the biggest of moments.  Walker is special......

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2011 4:56 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

Moses I see your point too but I seriously doubt that the Jazz trade two lotter picks, #3 and #12 for the number one pick.  It just won't happen.  The Cavs would have to give them something else.  That is a pipe dream for Cleveland at best. 

I do like your idea of trading Varejao for Fields but that won't happen because that would seriously cripple the Knicks in terms of improving that roster.  The Knicks are looking to 2012 and trying to get Paul or Deron Williams.  Varejao would eliminate that option.  The Sixers probably wouldn't take Varejao's contract either unless the Cavs take Iggy and then the Cavs would probably have to give them another piece which would defeat the purpose entirely.

I disagree though about a PG with no one to pass to because the Wizards are completely rebuilding and so are the Cavs.  You have to start somewhere and PG is the best position on the floor to start with in today's NBA.  Plus JJ, whoever they get with the #4 pick and next year's lottery pick will give them some talent.  They just have to be patient.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: June 17, 2011 4:47 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

As terrible as the Cavs are, they should trade the #1 pick to Utah for the #3 and #11 (or wherever their other lottery pick is).  With Irving and #4 pick, the Cavs will have 3 NBA-caliber starters and a bum bench.  They need more players.  Three lottery picks and J.J. Hickson is a good staring point.  Send Varajao to the Knicks (for Landry Fields) or Sixers for a shooting guard (it seems like they have 20 of them on the roster) and a second round pick.  Varajao's contract needs to go if the Cavs are going to win.  Davis too, but not sure there are a whole lot of takers on his money. 

Irving is a great talent, but a PG with no one to pass to is useless - ask the folks in Washington.  Give the folks in Cleveland a team that they can grow up with, and give the coach some options. 

Since: Jun 3, 2011
Posted on: June 17, 2011 4:02 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

I am with you, gopack. Do you know where all of the Williams is better than Irving chatter has come from? Every team in the draft not named the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving it will be.

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2011 3:41 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

Do you people even watch basketball?  There isn't even a question to which player the Cavs take #1.  It is Irving hands down.  This has become a PG dominated leage and whenever you have a chance to take the best PG in the draft then you don't hesitate.  D-Will is a good player no doubt but he claims he is a SF but plays more like a stretch 4.  He is going to be a Michael Beasley "tweener" in the NBA mark my words.

And to say that Minny won't take a PG is probably true but if Irving is there at two then they will either trade the pick and someone else will take him or they will take him and trade his rights to another team.  That leaves the Jazz taking Knight and then the Cavs ending up with Kanter or Vesely at #4.  I would rather have an Irving/Kanter combo than a D-Will/Vesely or D-Will/Kanter combo any day. 
@smchap -
plus the draft is point guard heavy with Irving, Knight, and Walker name three PG's one of which was barely a first round pick 8 months ago and all of a sudden this is a PG heavy draft?  And your analysis of how D-Will looked against opposing competition isn't exactly right either.  He shot 4-14 against Texas, hardly "dominant" as you put it.  Take out that last three point play and his numbers look even worse.  Point is that he isn't some phenom that we have been talking about for the past year.  He had a VERY GOOD tournament and then has benefited from some good luck with Sullinger, Perry Jones and Barnes withdrawing from the draft.

Neither of these guys are "Can't miss." prospects but the fact remains that the Cavs will be in the lottery again next year regardless.  Take Irving at #1, take Kanter when he falls to you at #4 and then take one of the talented wings that will be available in the draft next year.  I would rather pair Irving with Kanter and a Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones, Austin Rivers, Michael Gilchrist, Quincy Miller, or Terrence Jones than build around D-Will.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: June 17, 2011 2:36 pm

NBA Draft: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player?

Oh boy...Duke point guard + Cleveland Cavaliers = disaster.  This coming from a Cavs fan too!

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