ESPN NBA Redraft: Irving and Thompson go in Top Two

Not a Tristan Thompson fan with the fourth-overall selection? Still one of the shrinking-by-the-day contingent of individuals who think the Cavaliers should have selected Derrick Williams and some other guard — Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker, Jimmer?? — with the fourt selection? Well, ESPN aims to make you feel in more silly than you already should.

In a revisionist redraft of the 2011 class, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson are selected first- and second-overall.

Regarding Irving:

Viewed by most people as the top prospect in this class back in June, Irving has not disappointed. In fact, he’s probably been better than anyone expected considering his injury at Duke and the lockout. He’s had a terrific rookie season by anyone’s standards.

Not only is he the best player in this group, but he also has the brightest future. That’s what a team hopes to get from a No. 1 overall pick — impact now and more impact later.

And Thompson:

This is not a slight on Derrick Williams but rather a dream of featuring powerful bigs Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic with an athletic and long phenom like Thompson. As good as Minnesota’s two brutes are, they are still below-the-rim players, which is not an issue for Thompson.

Although Thompson is still a raw player on offense, he would be helped by Rick Adelman’s system. He’d be bad today, amazing tomorrow.

Fresh off of an outing where the two rookies combined for 53 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists, this redraft is certainly well-timed. Had Thompson’s skill set been publicized a little more and this redraft been reality, ESPN feels that Williams would have fallen to the fourth-overall pick, landing many Cavaliers their one-time dream pairing.

Cavaliers GM Chris Grant was recently panned by ESPN for the trade he made involving Ramon Sessions and the Los Angeles Lakers. The long-term implications of this write-up will certainly help make up for any potential hurt feelings.

[Related: Sessions Trade the Latest Exercise in Chris Grant’s Regimen]

  • Lyon25

    I was fine with the selections then & am still now.  We knew TT had problems on offense, but I think he’s shown flashes.  Give him some time with Z in the offseason and he’ll be decent on O. 

  • Harv 21

    And I had mocked Grant’s statement the day after the draft that he had Tigger rated “well above #4.”  Actually, that comment still sounds funny. 

  • Boomhauertjs

    I’m still worried that the Lithuanian center that the Raptors drafted at #5 might be a better player than TT, but TT’s work ethic means he’ll at least be a solid rotation player.

  • David W. Elbrecht

    Going into the draft, I was a huge Derrick Williams fan, but still wanted the Cavs to go after Irving. My stance is that if you have two players with relatively equal grades you should always go for a PG or C over a SG, SF, or PF because true 1s and 5s are game changers while scorers at the 2, 3, & 4 are relatively easy to find (see: Gee, Alonzo).

    Long story short, though I really liked Williams, Irving had to be the pick.

  • Harv 21

    Btw, when we played Jersey the tv guys commented on how Gerald Wallace came out of college as a horrible free throw shooter but has steadily improved until he is now proficient. His stroke is a little ugly but it works. Gave me hope for TT. Was having trouble thinking of someone able to dramatically improve in that area after he gets to the NBA.

  • TSR3000

    I won’t pretend that I wasn’t salivating over trying to get Irving and Williams. Glad I was wrong (so far). 

  • Ethan Lange

    That’s an article with a table of quite a few players that made significant jumps in free throw percentage throughout their careers. (They use commas instead of periods for decimal points – the only reason I tell you this is because that threw me off for a while)

  • MrCleaveland

    Man, this is some much-needed good news for our side. Nice, nice, nice.

  • Harv 21

    Thanks, that is pretty fascinating. Like how Chris Webber makes the biggest improvement list 3 separate times, indicating his free throw technique fell apart again in intervening years. And, how the list is pretty evenly split between guards and big men. And Kevin McHale going from 67% to almost 90%, Mark Price territory. And now I remember when Mark West did it with the Cavs, and was lauded because as ungainly as he was he just never stopped working until he had a little 4 foot jumper and a decent free throw touch. Good stuff.

  • floydrubino

    So a guy who is averaging less than 8 points and 6 rebounds for the season was picked  at #2 with no real threat of people playing in front of him. Hopefully he keeps developing because I think he is nonathletic with no jumper. I would love to be wrong about Tristan but there is no way of knowing who is 2nd best because no one has really separated themselves other than Kyrie. Every player is in different situations so it is impossible to know who GM’s would pick if they redrafted.

  • Chris

    Grant does seem to be the right guy to rebuild the franchise.  Seems like a sound  judge of talent, even when his gut is outside the mainstream. 

  • CavsFanInLA

    I completely agree, Lyon, that Tristan should only get better, and that shoudl bring smiles to all of us Cavs fans.

    Not only will Z be working with him this summer, but I just read that Coach Scott wants Kyrie and Tristan to play a few games in the summer league, which will help them learn each other’s game more, as well as give them experience playing with the new crop of rookies from this summer’s draft.

    Thank God Cleveland sports fans have a team they can feel excited about.

  • CavsFanInLA

    True…. and it also helps the Cavs have a very good scouting team that went to Texas and had Tristan on their radar for the past years.

    I also read that Z will be doing some scouting in Europe….

    The Cavs have a good Organization, that has made some very good choices under Grant.

  • BrownsFanSF

    No offense man, but did you just say Tristan Thompson is non-athletic?

  • Jaker


  • floydrubino

    When he shoots from the outside he looks uncomfortable.

  • BrownsfanSF

    That I completely agree with.  If he puts in anything other than a two handed slam, it looks down right serendipitous 

  • Chris

    That just makes him unskilled. Unathletic? You and I are definitely not watching he same player. Athleticism is actually his defining characteristic.

  • mgbode

    not sure you were wrong.  in the rare instances Minny lets DW off the bench, he sure looks like he could have filled our wing-scoring void.

  • mgbode

    I think he means he is not fluid in his motions.  He can jump out of the gym, he’s strong, he’s quick.  But, I do agree he’s a little herky-jerky in his motions at doing any of it.

    not that I mind, he gives full effort and looks better now than he did at the beginning of the year. he keeps that up and he’ll keep getting better.

  • Mike

    It should be noted that David Thorpe is the biggest Tristan Thompson fan on the planet – he actually picked Thompson to be the Rookie of the Year before the season.  I’m not saying that invalidates his opinion, but he’s the only guy at ESPN who would take Thompson #2.

  • steve-o

    The Kyrie pick was an easy one to make, but TT was more difficult and controversial (at the time). What I like is that they went by more than just stats. As i recall, the Cavs invited several top picks including DWill to workout for them. TT was a last minute addition and was the one that stood out (and probably interviewd the best). I’m sure Coach Scott had a big say in it as well.