Kyrie Irving won Rookie of the Year today, but he really won it before the All-Star break, then lapped the field a couple of times. Awards are funny in that way: The better the winner, the less interesting his coronation.
But there is one rookie—and only one—who touched Irving's production on a per-minute basis. And the fact that Kenneth "Manimal" Faried was the rookie who pulled it off is a miracle.
He's an undersized power forward who can't shoot, hailing from Morehead State—a college I had never heard of until learning of Faried.
With the way the 22nd pick in the draft has produced (18.2 points, 13.6 rebounds per 40 per minutes), I wonder if the Cavs regret not pairing Faried with Irving. Tristan Thompson has shown potential, but the Manimal can control the game for stretches with tireless rebounding.
Like a pogo stick, the subsequent jumps are often higher than the first. He simply won't give up on a rebound and has the tactile sense to tap the ball from the fray. He is the portrait of controlled chaos: dreads flying, arms splayed, yet doing the refined work necessary to pry loose the ball from the scrum.
So yes, Kyrie Irving is the clear ROY and an emerging superstar at his position.
But here's the most incredible question raised by the 2011 NBA draft: "Is Kenneth Faried its second-best player?"