Some high draft picks do not want to attend the NBA’s summer league after they have established themselves. Irving is not in that category.
“Even if Coach Scott didn’t want me to go, I was going to be there anyway,” Irving said.
Scott believes it would be good for rookies Irving and Tristan Thompson to play together, even if it’s only for a few games. Irving went a step further: With as many as four draft picks joining the team in July, the newbies will have a chance to play with the starting point guard.
Due to the lockout, neither Irving nor Thompson took part in last year’s summer league in Las Vegas. Irving said he knows it can be an anxious time for young guys trying to make a favorable impression.
“I’m going there to cool everybody down,” Irving said. “[I'll] be the cool guy down there.”
Chris Grant said he was drafting “high-quality humans” and now I see what he means. Kyrie Irving, the odds on favorite for Rookie-of-the-Year, is pumped about playing in summer league. He wants to mesh and gel with the new guys. That’s awesome.
A this point, I couldn’t be more pleased with the Cavalier point guard. Hell, even though it didn’t fall, I was giddy that Irving ‘went glass’ on his game winning attempt in Atlanta. What 19 year old calls banks on game winners? Who does that?
I have to believe that Dan Gilbert and Chris Grant are thrilled with having the face of the franchise to be not just willing, but eager to play in the summer league. It cannot hurt for the new draftees to get early run with Kyrie and Tristan Thompson. The Cavs longterm success is going to be dictated by the on-court relationships between these young foundation pieces. It can’t but help to start early. And if your franchise guy wants to suit up for summer league games, all the better.
This is why this upcoming draft is so important and I’m firmly in the “stay the fuck away from the 8th seed” camp. Irving has already shown that he can be a stud at the NBA level. He and Thompson, for now anyways, are saying all the right things about being ready to work taking on the responsibility of leadership. Yes, not every team can just build through the draft. Drafting in the lottery year after year is not a guarantee for success. Some years, LeBron is picked first and in other years, it’s Kwame Brown.
But the Cavs got lucky. They got Kyrie Irving.
And I couldn’t be happier.
(And in case you were wondering, no, LeBron didn’t play in the summer league following his rookie season. And for shame! He missed out on quality time with Luke Jackson, Kedrick Brown, Dajuan Wagner and the immortal DeSagana Diop).
(Also, the linked Reed piece tells the story of the Cavs’ visit to the 9/11 memorial in New York. Really good stuff).