Kyrie Irving will be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
But he wouldn’t have beaten out John Wall for the top spot last draft. Or Blake Griffin for the top spot two drafts ago. Or Derrick Rose three drafts ago. Or…
It has some fans wondering is Irving a deserving No. 1 pick? Where would he fall in other drafts?
Good questions. But two very separate and distinct ones.
Is he a deserving No. 1? Yes, he’s the best player with the most potential in his draft class. He deserves to go No. 1 this year. The draft is a year-to-year thing, it has ups and downs and is not a constant. This is Irving’s year. He earned it. You can’t take that away from him.
Where would he fall in other drafts? That’s harder to answer.
I spoke with several scouts and front office people and asked where Irving would fall in other drafts. The answer was fairly universal — they don’t know. They don’t care. As one guy said, teams don’t really think like that. It would be a waste of energy to work out where Irving would fall on last year’s draft board. So they don’t do it.
One person suggested that in general you can figure a player in this draft would go about five spots lower most years, but that still it would be hard to pinpoint where an one player would fall (workouts against these other guys would have influenced the draft).
It’s a fans exercise, not a team one. But it’s interesting. Let’s take a look at the last few drafts ourselves and try to figure it out.
Last year there is no way Irving is taken before John Wall. Evan Turner was No. 2 and while he had an off year at the time he was a consensus better player than Irving is now (even if that may have been a miss). Derrick Favors (No. 3) would have been taken higher (big men with potential move up). Wesley Johnson at No. 4? Depends. DeMarcus Cousins at No. 5 was a better player but with character questions. Ekpe Udoh and Greg Monroe (No. 6 and 7) had questions but were centers. Basically, Irving likely might have gone anywhere four to eight.
Two years ago Blake Griffin still would have been No. 1. Hasheem Thabeet went No. 2 to Memphis and while we know about that pick in hindsight at the time Memphis would have made that move Irving or no. Then the picks went James Harden, Tyreke Evans and Ricky Rubio. Not sure Irving goes in front of any of them, but maybe. Then we get to No. 6 and Jonny Flynn, No. 7 Stephen Curry (coming out of a small school in Davidson). Irving again is probably right in there, No. 6 to No. 8, but could have been top three.
In 2008, Derrick Rose still goes No. 1 and Michael Beasley is still No. 2. Then the picks went O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook (remember how that was considered a reach?) and Kevin Love. Then at No. 6 it was the Knicks and Danilo Gallinari. Irving might have been in the mix anywhere after the first two, although again likely around five or six.
But that is all guesswork. Irving is not rated as a guy you can build a franchise around like the top picks the last three years, but he is a quality player. A guy strongly considered in the top five any year.
And a guy who earned being No. 1 this year. That’s all that matters.