The Association announced its selection for NBA Rookies Of The Month on Monday and to the surprise of nobody Cleveland Cavaliers rookie point guard Kyrie Irving once again received the honor in the Eastern Conference. Irving has shut out all competition in the East this season; winning the award all three times. Inserted into the Cleveland starting lineup as the point guard at the beginning of the campaign; the number one pick in last June’s NBA Draft is the leading scorer among rookies in the Association as he has averaged 18.9 points per contest. Detroit Pistons rookie point guard Brandon Knight who is second ion scoring among players in their first season; is not even in the same area code as he is averaging 12.6 points per game for the season.
Although he played just a handful of games last year; his only season at Duke, he showed enough to make the Cavaliers believe that this young man could be something special in the NBA and he has yet to disappoint. The rookie survived his baptism by fire, being thrust into running the offense and earning the confidence that Cleveland head coach Byron Scott showed in him when he designated Irving as his starter.
Scott has been up close and personal to some of the most talented point guards in the Association during the past 30 years; as he played along Lakers star Magic Johnson and coached both Jason Kidd and Chris Paul. Scott knew early on that his rookie had the “Right Stuff” to be able to handle the responsibilities of beginning the campaign as the starter at the point. The “Cleveland Plain Dealer” reported that when Scott was asked whether his point guard was the leader in the competition to win the NBA Rookie Of The Year Award, he responded “I don’t think it’s even close.”
Cavaliers veteran forward Antawn Jamison told reporters that as far as he was concerned the competition was a one man race. He said “I’m biased, but just look at his body of work and the things he’s done. Game after game opponents are trying to do everything possible to stop him. To be averaging 18 or 19 points a game, I don’t see him not being the Rookie of the Year.”
Joe Dumars made his best move in years when he drafted Brandon Knight in the NBA Draft last June and Knight has had a good rookie campaign and has shown promise of being a quality player in the Association for years to come. However, his campaign pales in comparison to what Irving has done this season.
Timberwolves rookie Ricky Rubio worked his way into the club’s starting lineup during the season and with All-Star forward Kevin Love actually had Minnesota over the .500 mark and a dark-horse in the Western Conference Playoff chase before he went down with a season ending injury. His chances of being a serious threat for the award ended with his season.
Other rookies who have had strong first years in the NBA include; New Jersey’s MarShon Brooks, another point guard with a huge upside in the Bobcats’ Kemba Walker, Warriors guard Klay Thompson and the winner of the award for last month in the West, Kings rookie guard Isaiah Thomas. Once again though Irving has had a far better campaign than any of his possible competitors.
Although the Cavaliers will once again not make the Playoffs, after trading Ramon Sessions to the Lakers as well as injuries took the club out of the Post Season chase; Cleveland fans will enter this summer a lot more optimistic about the future than they did a year ago. Irving has Cavaliers fans excited once again and the recent emergence of the club’s other first round pick from last June, Tristan Thompson has given them another player who could become a core member of a contending team. With their selections in the upcoming NBA Draft, it might not be that much longer before the NBA Playoffs return to Cleveland.