2011 NBA Draft: Are the Cleveland Cavaliers Banking on Kyrie Irving?

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IApril 14, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Kyrie Irving impressed seemingly every professional scout in the country during his limited opportunities with the Duke Blue Devils, but after only 11 games at the collegiate level, is he really ready to be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA draft?

Irving came to the college game as one of the top recruits in the nation, receiving a five-star rating from Scout.com and a grade of 97 from ESPN Scouts Inc. He decided to attend Duke shortly after he competed in the 2010 McDonald's All-American game.

Irving played a little over 300 minutes during his only season with the Blue Devils and scored 192 points while boasting a .529 field goal percentage.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the team projected to select Irving with the first overall pick in the draft. However, Derrick Williams continues to be an option as Cleveland will be looking to fill a hole at seemingly every position on the court.

Williams has a much larger body of work under his belt as he played two quality seasons for the Arizona Wildcats and posted outstanding numbers. Over the course of his career, Williams scored a total of 1,227 points and posted a shooting percentage slightly above .584.

Cleveland currently ranks 25th in the entire NBA in scoring and also ranks 23rd in total defense. The Cavaliers are in need of a complete player that can not only shoot the basketball but that can also be a consistent force on the defensive end of the court.

Irving collected 31 defensive rebounds and 16 steals during his only season at Duke, while Williams snagged 360 defensive rebounds and stole 56 passes in his two seasons with Arizona.

Cleveland took a significant gamble on LeBron James when they drafted him out of high school, several years ago. Many teams that draft unproven talent usually do not get the type of player that can change the fortunes of an entire franchise so early in their career.

Irving would be a similar selection to what James was for the Cavaliers, since Irving barely even tested the college ranks before declaring to head to the NBA.

As the mock drafts and debate continue into the summer months, Cleveland may be better off hoping for the second selection in the NBA Draft, where the debate between Irving and Williams may not be decided by the Cavaliers.