With today’s announcement that Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is the NBA Rookie of the Year, the caveat that followed him from Duke to Cleveland, while still valid, doesn’t diminish his huge rookie season. That caveat, of course, involves his health: When he’s on the floor, he’s in elite company among an already elite NBA. It holds true with today’s award for the 20-year-old point guard.
At Duke he only played 11 games and was easily the best freshman in the country and gave us all every reason to believe, in that limited playing time, he’d have been a Wooden award finalist. The same held true this year after only playing in 51 games with assorted injuries. It didn’t take us until March 21 to see it, but his 29-point, nine-board, nine-dime game against the Hawks confirmed that he’s a special guard. It was one of 25 games he scored between 20-29 points. The only reason he ever dropped in Dime‘s rookie rankings was because of injury.
Comparing him to other recent Rookie of the Year guards, he had more points as a rook (18.5 per) than Derrick Rose, Brandon Roy, Chris Paul and Steve Francis. The best shooting on threes (.399) since 2000-01’s Mike Miller. The best shooting (.469) from the field of any ROY who wasn’t a forward or center since Michael Jordan‘s .515 in 1984-85. You get the picture, but we found a top-10 video to show you, too. I’d argue his spin-cycle game-winner on Boston should be higher than No. 5, but it’s really only splitting hairs or picking between Liam Neeson movies at that point.
The tape is solid, but it’s not all his best plays from this season. Hit the jump to see our must-see top five that would make our “director’s cut” tape for Irving.