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2011 NBA Draft Combine Coverage: Is Kyrie Irving Ready to be a Franchise Point Guard - June 23
It is thought, but not confirmed, that the Cleveland Cavaliers will take Duke point guard Kyrie Irving Thursday night with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
The Cavs haven't told him he'll be the first-overall selection, but it is likely between him and Derrick Williams, and conventional wisdom seems to be leaning toward Irving.
With his numbers - 17.5 points per game, 4.3 assists per game, 46 percent shooting from beyond the arc - it's easy to see why. But he's only played 11 games of college basketball, so it's only natural to wonder if he's ready - physically and mentally - to be a cornerstone for a NBA franchise.
"There are some people who think why did I even come to college if I was only going to play 11 games?" Irving said. "I came to college to get an education and play college basketball, and I was unfortunate to get injured. It was not my intention to only play 11 games."
Sure, there have been a ton of one-and-dones since the NBA instituted the rule (Kentucky has a whole bunch all by themselves, seemingly every year), but Irving is a unique case, because he only played 11 games. Currently, the league is considering changing the one-and-done rule to a 2-year minimum, so it's interesting to see where he weighs in on this topic.
"If they do move it up great; I enjoyed my college experience," Irving said. "It was a really tough decision for me to leave based on the relationships I had with the coaches and the whole aura of the Duke campus."
Either way, it won't keep him from making his millions this summer. Baseball has a rule - you can jump from high school right away, or if you do go to college, it's a minimum 3-year commitment. That's a decision I would support. Most of the NBA and college hoops literati I've spoken with also favor this idea. Irving's thoughts?
"I think you should leave it up to the player," Irving said. "It's their personal choice if they want to test the waters."
Many people are labeling this draft class as one of the weakest of all time. And it's easy to understand why. But that doesn't take away from the achievement of being No. 1 overall in Irving's eyes.
"I don't really pay attention to whether they call it weak or strong or anything like that," he said at the draft combine in Chicago. And he's quite certain he made the right decision in entering the 2011 NBA Draft.
"If I had any questions I wouldn't have come back; I truly believe that I wouldn't have come out had I only played eight games," he said. "I came back for the NCAA Tournament because one, I was ready, and two, I wanted to answer all the questions about whether this toe injury would have a lingering effect on my career."
So in other words, yes, Irving is ready to shoulder the expectations that will soon be thrust upon him.