When the 2011-12 NBA All-Rookie First Team was announced on Tuesday, May 22, Cleveland Cavaliers Rookie of the Year recipient Kyrie Irving headlined a class of seven first teamers. Averaging 18.5 points, 5.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals in his rookie campaign, Irving was the only unanimous decision in the group.
Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who was second in votes for the All-Rookie First Team, proved to be Irving’s only competition for the ROY Award. His season was unfortunately derailed by a torn ACL and LCL. The 41 games that Rubio did play in he averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds, numbers that would definitely have given Irving a challenge if he would have stayed healthy throughout the whole season.
Other rookies to join Irving and Rubio included Kenneth Faried (10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds) of the Denver Nuggets, Klay Thompson (12.5 points) of the Golden State Warriors, Iman Shumpert (9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds) of the New York Knicks, Kawhi Leonard (7.9 points, 5.1 rebounds) of the San Antonio Spurs and Brandon Knight (12.8 points, 3.8 assists) of the Detroit Pistons.
Leonard, who is preparing for a grueling playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, is averaging 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in eight post season games so far. Leonard could prove to be a pivotal role in the Spurs success down low against the Thunder, as he has shown the Spurs that he is ready to play in a heated playoff battle starting on Sunday, May 27.
Irving, who was a lock-in selection for the First Team, was joined by his rookie teammate Tristan Thompson who received All-Rookie Second Team honors. Thompson averaged 8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds this season while starting 25 games at center. Thompson will see a spike in his performance once Anderson Varejao gets back on the court with him. The two have yet to start a game together.
Joining Thompson on the All-Rookie Second Team were Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets, Isaiah Thomos of the Sacramento Kings, MarShon Brooks of the New Jersey Nets and Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Cavaliers and the Timberwolves were the only teams to have two players selected to either the All-Rookie First Team or Second Team. Looking at those two teams I see a lot of young talent that will eventually lead their respective teams to the playoffs. If it wasn’t for injuries the Timberwolves may have made the playoffs this season, especially with the way Kevin Love was playing (26.0 points, 13.3 rebounds).
As for the Cavaliers, their picks in the 2012 NBA Draft will help compliment Irving, Thompson and the other key players on the Cavaliers roster. With the work that the No. 1 and 4 picks in the 2011 NBA Draft are putting in this summer, we could see a dramatic spike in the number of Cavalier wins for the 2012-13 NBA season.
With that said, Cavalier fans will find out where they will pick in the NBA Draft on Wednesday, May 30 when the NBA Draft Lottery is broadcasted on ESPN at 8 p.m.
Stay tuned to Right Down Euclid for more NBA Draft coverage and to keep up on the Cavaliers summer training