Cavaliers Tab Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson
It was supposed to be a wild Draft night and 35 minutes into the proceedings, the Cavaliers shocked no one with the No. 1 overall pick and shocked nearly everyone with No. 4.
With the top pick in the 2011, the Cavs went with Kyrie Irving – the best pure point guard in the Draft. For weeks, if not months, the freshman from Duke was slated to be the top selection. Irving, the fourth No. 1 overall pick in Cavaliers history, has all the tools and all the intangibles. The only thing Irving lacked – who played just 11 games for Duke this past season – is game tape.
“My immediate impact will just be bringing a winning attitude, bringing my game into the organization and being as productive as possible,” said Irving. “Long-term, I really want to be a cornerstone and a piece that they build around. They have a lot of great players and I can’t wait. I’m very excited to become a Cavalier.”
Irving averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists in his freshman season. He comes to the NBA as a polished shooter – 53 percent from the floor, 45 percent from long-distance and 90 percent from the stripe.
At 6-3, Irving has above-average size. He’s a creative passer and solid decision-maker; an 18-year-old kid who was given the keys to the most famed program in college hoops.
With their second pick, the Wine and Gold pulled the trigger on another freshman – Texas power forward Tristan Thompson.
Thompson’s meteoric rise up Draft boards culminated at No. 4, where the Cavaliers tabbed the Canadian-born power forward.
The 6-8, 225-pounder was Texas’ second-leading scorer and was named the squad’s MVP – averaging 13.1 points per game. Thompson led the Longhorns in rebounding (7.8 rpg), blocked shots (86) double-doubles (10) and field goal percentage (.546). He was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
In high school, Thompson spent his senior season at powerhouse Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada. Previous to that, he was a teammate of Samardo Samuels at St. Benedict’s Prep Academy in New Jersey – about a stone’s throw from Prudential Center, where he was anointed as the newest member of the Cavaliers.
“Samardo is like a big brother to me,” said Thompson on a mid-first round conference call. “I played a year with him at St. Benedict’s and being reunited with Samardo definitely warms my heart, and I’m excited to get to Cleveland.”
Thompson is already a solid defender and rebounder, but he’ll likely need to work on his offensive game at the next level – something he’s looking forward to. He’s been working with former Cavaliers head coach John Lucas over this summer.
“I am continuing to work on my (jump) shot, so it becomes more consistent,” said Thompson. “Coach Lucas tells me that it takes months of dedication to make it consistent and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
As of this writing, the Draft is about three-quarters through the first round. With two new Cavaliers in the fold, the evening rolls on. Barring any moves, Cleveland has the No. 32 and No. 54 overall picks.