“I was as surprised as anyone,” he said.
You’re going to Cleveland, kid.
Moving further away from LeBron James‘ maddening departure, the Cavaliers selected Duke’s versatile point guard with the top pick in Thursday’s draft, an expected-and-safe selection for a franchise that had to endure a 63-loss season after being abandoned last July by James short of a championship.
Irving played only 11 games last season for the Blue Devils because of a toe injury, but that didn’t scare off the Cavaliers, who strongly considered Arizona forward Derrick Williams before settling on the 6-foot-2 Irving, the class of what is considered one of the weakest drafts in years.
“He was No. 1 on our board all season long,” said Cavaliers coach Byron Scott. “He’s definitely the guy. What I like about Kyrie is that he’s an intelligent player. He has a very good understanding about what the game is all about, and very good understanding about what he is about as well.”
Irving is the third point guard taken first overall in the past four years, joining John Wall, who went to Washington in 2010 and Derrick Rose, chosen by Chicago in 2008. In a league being dominated by backcourt stars, the Cavs are counting on Irving to become an elite playmaker and Cleveland’s newest star.
He’s up for the challenge.
“It’s something that I’ve been dreaming about for a while,” Irving said on a conference call from New Jersey. “I know they’ll embrace me. I just want to bring a lot of wins to the city of Cleveland.”
One summer after James‘ decision, the Cavaliers are making all the choices.
After taking Irving, the Cavaliers used the No. 4 pick on Texas forward Tristan Thompson, a selection that was viewed as a bit of a surprise. The team was reportedly interested in Lithuania center Jonas Valanciunas, but may have been turned off by his uncertain contract situation with a pro club in his home country.
The 6-foot-8 Thompson, who is from Toronto, only played one year with the Longhorns, averaging 13.1 points and 7.6 rebounds.
“They’re the two best talents and two best humans that fit our team,” Grant said. “The further we went along in the process, the higher they went up.”
Thompson’s addition could mean the Cavaliers, who also have the Nos. 32 and 54 picks, are seriously shopping power forward J.J. Hickson, an immense physical talent who has shown flashes of stardom but whose on-court lapses frustrated Scott last season.View Entire Story
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