The Cleveland Cavaliers took Duke University’s Kyrie Irving with the top pick in the National Basketball Association draft as they seek to rebuild a team that had a 19-63 record last season after losing LeBron James.
The 6-foot-2 Irving was the third point guard taken No. 1 in the past four years, following Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls in 2008 and John Wall of the Washington Wizards in 2010. ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said Irving doesn’t have the explosiveness of Rose or Wall, likening him instead to Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, who has made four All-Star appearances in his first six NBA seasons.
“He changes pace and direction really well, he’s got a really good feel for the game and he’s a mature leader,” Bilas said on a media conference call. “He’ll step in and be a really good point guard in the league. The question is whether he’s going to be an All-Star player. That’s still an open question because we didn’t get a chance to see as much of him as we expected in his freshman year.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves chose second, taking University of Arizona forward Derrick Williams. The New York Knicks were booed by fans at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, last night for using the 17th overall selection on Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert.
Four players from outside the U.S. were among the top seven picks for the first time in draft history.
Irving, 19, declared for the draft after his freshman season at Duke, where he was limited to 11 games because of a foot injury and averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists.
Irving is the fourth player the Cavaliers have taken with the No. 1 pick and the first since James in 2003, when he also was 19. James joined the Miami Heat as a free agent in 2010 after closing his seven-year tenure in Cleveland with two consecutive 60-win seasons and league Most Valuable Player awards. The Cavaliers’ other No. 1 draft picks were Brad Daugherty in 1986 and Austin Carr in 1971.
Irving is the third player from Duke to be taken with the top pick and the first since Elton Brand in 1999.
The Timberwolves used the second pick on the 6-foot-8 Williams, who averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds as a sophomore at Arizona last season.
The Utah Jazz followed by selecting 7-foot Turkish center Enes Kanter, who wasn’t eligible to play at the University of Kentucky last season.
The Cavaliers, whose record last season was the second-worst in the NBA, also had the fourth pick and drafted University of Texas power forward Tristan Thompson, the Big 12 Conference’s freshman of the year last season.
The next three picks were players from outside the U.S. The Toronto Raptors took 7-foot Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas, the Washington Wizards drafted 6-foot-11 forward Jan Vesely from the Czech Republic, and the Sacramento Kings picked 6-foot-9 forward Bismack Biyombo from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Biyombo was traded to Charlotte as part of a three-team exchange in which the Bobcats sent leading scorer Stephen Jackson to Milwaukee.
The Detroit Pistons took University of Kentucky guard Brandon Knight at No. 8 and the Bobcats followed by taking guard Kemba Walker, who led the University of Connecticut to the national championship last season.
The Milwaukee Bucks drafted Jimmer Fredette from Brigham Young University with the 10th pick and sent him to Sacramento. Fredette was college basketball’s leading scorer last season, averaging 28.9 points a game.
“He’s an extraordinary scorer,” Bilas said of Fredette. “He’s a capable passer and can create his own shot. The question is what he’s going to be like defensively. He didn’t defend at all in college.”
The Golden State Warriors selected Washington State guard Klay Thompson with the 11th pick. Thompson is the son of Mychal Thompson, who played 12 seasons in the NBA after being taken No. 1 overall in the 1978 draft.
After the Jazz took University of Colorado guard Alec Burks at No. 12, the Morris twins from the University of Kansas -- both forwards -- were drafted consecutively. The Phoenix Suns took Markieff with the 13th pick and the Houston Rockets followed by taking Marcus.
The Indiana Pacers selected San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard at No. 15 before the Philadelphia 76ers opted for University of Southern California center Nikola Vucevic. The Pacers later traded Leonard to San Antonio for George Hill.
Boos for Knicks
The Knicks’ top pick was then used on the 6-foot-5 Shumpert, prompting a round of boos. Shumpert, who draft analysts said is regarded as a defensive specialist, didn’t attend the draft.
“It’s understandable,” Knicks interim general manager Glen Grunwald said of the fans’ reaction in a televised interview. “But if we want to become a better defensive team we have to acquire better defensive players. We love his size, his strength, his athleticism.”
The Knicks also acquired former Kentucky forward Josh Harrellson, a second-round pick of the New Orleans Hornets, for cash. The 6-foot-10 Harrellson was the 45th of 60 players drafted over two rounds last night.
NBA FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS =============================================================== TEAM PLAYER POS. SCHOOL/COUNTRY =============================================================== 1. Cleveland Kyrie Irving PG Duke 2. Minnesota Derrick Williams PF Arizona 3. Utah Enes Kanter C Turkey 4. Cleveland Tristan Thompson PF Texas 5. Toronto Jonas Valanciunas C Lithuania 6. Washington Jan Vesely SF Czech Republic 7. Sacramento * Bismack Biyombo PF Congo 8. Detroit Brandon Knight PG Kentucky 9. Charlotte Kemba Walker PG Connecticut 10. Milwaukee * Jimmer Fredette PG Brigham Young 11. Golden State Klay Thompson SG Washington St 12. Utah Alec Burks SG Colorado 13. Phoenix Markieff Morris PF Kansas 14. Houston Marcus Morris PF Kansas 15. Indiana # Kawhi Leonard SF San Diego St 16. Philadelphia Nikola Vucevic C USC 17. New York Iman Shumpert PG Georgia Tech 18. Washington Chris Singleton SF Florida St 19. Charlotte * Tobias Harris PF Tennessee 20. Minnesota ** Donatas Motiejunas PF Lithuania 21. Portland Nolan Smith SG Duke 22. Denver Kenneth Faried PF Morehead St 23. Houston ** ## Nikola Mirotic SF Serbia 24. Oklahoma City Reggie Jackson PG Boston College 25. Boston @ Marshon Brooks SG Providence 26. Dallas x Jordan Hamilton SF Texas 27. New Jersey @ JaJuan Johnson PF Purdue 28. Chicago ## Norris Cole PG Cleveland St 29. San Antonio Cory Joseph PG Texas 30. Chicago Jimmy Butler SF Marquette * Milwaukee sent Fredette to Sacramento in a three- team trade involving Charlotte. The Bobcats sent Harris to the Bucks, who also got Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston from Charlotte, and Beno Udrih from Sacramento. Charlotte received Biyombo from the Kings and Corey Maggette from Milwaukee. ** Minnesota sent draft rights to Motiejunas to Houston for the rights to Mirotic and a second-round pick. # Indiana traded Leonard to the San Antonio Spurs for George Hill. ## Chicago sent Cole’s draft rights to Minnesota for rights to Mirotic and a second-round pick. @ Boston sent Brooks’s rights to New Jersey for Johnson’s rights and a 2014 second-round pick. X Dallas traded rights to Hamilton and a second-round pick to Portland for Rudy Hernandez.