Irving, Williams Put on a Show for Cleveland

As the Cavaliers inch closer to the NBA Draft, Cleveland fans are using the NCAA Tournament as a scouting mechanism that allows them to potentially catch up on players who they may or may have not had a chance to watch during the regular season.

On Thursday night, as the Duke Blue Devils and Arizona Wildcats battled for a spot in the Elite Eight, dream scenarios ran rampant as the Cavs – boasting two lottery selections in the upcoming draft – have a chance to start righting the 13-win ship.  Duke’s Kyrie Irving and Arizona’s Derrick Williams have long been in the top-five of many draftniks and Cleveland fans (including this one) alike, and for the first time this season, the two players were on the same stage for all of the nation to watch.

The result: Williams led the Wildcats in a relative upset with 32 points (11-of-17 from the floor), 13 rebounds (six offensive), two steals, a blocked shot and a Williams-esque 5-of-6 from three-point land.  Irving, though playing for the losing Blue Devils, did not disappoint with team-high 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go with three assists and a steal.

Many speculate that Irving is firmly planted at the top of the Cavaliers’ draft board given his skill set, amazing talent and Byron Scott’s penchant for success when provided a pure point guard.  Williams represents a bit of a conundrum at this stage as his position at the next level is far from concrete.  Presently, Williams plays in the post for the Wildcats (sometimes listed as center), but – as seen by his stat line above – can certainly stretch the floor and hit jump shots well beyond the paint. 

Many scouts in the NBA feel that, if Williams (32.69 PER on the season) could prove capable of playing the small forward spot (he’s 6-foot-8-inches with flat feet), he could be the 1A to Kyrie Irving’s No. 1 slot.  Ironically, he’s also jersey No. 23…

If anything became evident last night, the fact that Williams played many of his games on the West coast and were not televised in Cleveland is no longer an issue.  The cat (no pun intended) is certainly out of the bag and Cavalier fans will be hard-pressed to assume that the Wine and Gold can land both players.  Thankfully, if Williams continues to play at this level (one analyst said he had Blake Griffin-like moments last night), he will provide some solace in the event that the Cavs do not land the No. 1 pick come this spring’s lottery. 

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • mgbode

    which one do you choose at #1?

    since it’s still March. imagine a world where the Clippers pick hits the lotto at #2 and ours at #1 and we get both :)

    and imagine Sterlings face as it happens. can the NBA invite him to the lottery just for that reaction?

  • Mark

    Williams was awesome last night. During the game I found myself dreaming of an Irving & Williams combo for the Cavs next year. Its a long shot I know but man, that would be cool.

  • Mark

    And can last night’s games end anymore of the ridiculous talk of drafting Jimmer in the lottery? If he ever made a defensive play it would be his first ever. He is a nice college player and a good media story but an NBA starter? No chance.

  • Lyon

    I’m skeptical Williams can be an NBA SF. Doesn’t seem to have the SF game. Still wouldn’t mind having him, but he seems kind of a tweener.

    Then again, Moon was a starting SF in the NBA … nuff said

  • dwhit110

    It’s stupid to advocate making drafting choices based on one game, but as I watched that I found myself getting on the “draft Derrick Williams!!!” bandwagon.


    Hopefully one of our picks ends up as at least the #2 so we’ll be able to draft one of these guys.

  • Harv 21

    Williams’s NBA body and raw talent are so obvious, but watching Irving penetrate at will and change speeds three times on the way to the hoop in heavy traffic, man, I’m seeing Brandon Roy, I’m seeing Derrick Rose, I’m seeing a franchise guy.

    Course, also thought Peter Warrick was going to be an impact NFL receiver, so what the hell do I know.

  • 5KMD

    D. Williams could definitely do what Boozer does (no injury or wife jokes please) only better. He’s only 19 too so he can get bigger, stronger, faster.

  • TSR3000

    If we can score Irving, Williams or Sullinger, I am happy.

    2 of those 3 and I am ecstatic.

  • chucky brown

    are we moving in a direction where we abort the Irving plans, take Dwill #1 and then take a shot on BKnight or Kwalker with the 2nd lotto pick?

    for my money I think if we have to find a purer 3 ( barnes or Terrance Jones) and stick with irving at 1

  • mgbode

    don’t know why Derrick Williams can’t play SF in the NBA? he’s big and strong and likes to play in the paint, sure. but, he can hit outside shots and is super-quick as well.

    in his case, he’s a SF/PF tweener, but in a good way. in the way where he can play PF when we go small and SF in a regular lineup. i like versatility.

    and could you imagine having a SF wearing #23 that actually likes to play in the paint? or one that’s actually good at hitting 3s?

    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  • Stinkfist

    I would actually prefer Harrison Barnes over Williams. Assuming Hickson is the future power forward, we would need more of wing player at small forward. From what I’ve seen, Williams isn’t a great 3-shooter, nor very good at free throws. I’d love to have Williams, but I would prefer Barnes.

  • Stinkfist

    holy crap… I was way off on Williams. I guess I just saw some bad shooting games. He is 41-68 from 3 (.603). I was right about the free throws though. Wow

  • Goldenflash7903

    After seeing DWill on a few occasions this season, this guy looks amazing, he can shoot for a high percentage(60%),even outside and hit the boards (offensively too). I see him as a guy like another Arizona player, Sean Elliot, an athletic guy with a shot who can rebound and play some defense.

    I must be the only person who doesn’t get the Irving hype. for a point gaurd he sure doesn’t facilite the offense a whole lot. On countless possessions in the second half last night, he brought the ball up and passed it immediatly, ran to a corner and stood there the rest of the possession. Now that may be because of Nolan Smith. I was not extremely impressed last night or anytime in the tourney with him. I watched a replay recently (I work with alot of Illini alum)of a Illini elite 8 game from their season where they played for the title and Deron Williams commanded that offense and was the focal point. It was the same for Derrick Rose, CP3 and Rondo while they were in college. I am not saying Irving has to be that, but right now my arms are crossed.

  • Roosevelt

    I think the last two sentences are what my impression was. Williams was definitely Griffinesque and it’s good to know that there are options if we don’t get the first pick – which is actually most likely. Personally, I prefer Irving, but if we end up with, say, Williams at two and Kemba at seven-nine or so, that’s not bad.

    Looking at the standings re: Irving, I wonder whether Washington or Minnesota would take Irving if they get the top pick. Williams’s play definitely gives the Cavs more leverage, since it’s obviously not a one player draft anymore.

  • Shamrock

    Can’t see why ppl are so high on Irving it must be the Derrick Rose factor. Trying to find the next great PG. Rather have Kemba Walker a proven player. It’ll take Irving two years meanwhile Walker will be established on way to potential All-Star. Williams is a stud but I like Barnes better too.