Kyrie Irving's rookie season with the Cleveland Cavaliers was one of the most successful first years a Duke alumnus has ever had. He led the Cavs with 18.5 points and 5.4 assists on the way to a near unanimous Rookie of the Year season.
Midway through the lockout-shortened season Irving missed 15 games with a concussion but was able to return and be as successful as he was before the injury. However, the Cavaliers did not have a good year, finishing in 13th place out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference. Irving was the lone bright spot, so the front office used the draft and free agency to acquire more players that fit around their star point guard.
The Cavaliers used their first round draft picks on Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller. They needed additional scoring from the perimeter and an inside presence, but I don't think these were the right selections to complement Kyrie Irving.
As a Duke alum, I watched a lot of North Carolina basketball games last year, and was consistently impressed with Zeller's efficiency and effort at both ends of the court. He definitely earned his 2012 ACC Player of the Year. But last year's NBA season demonstrated that the future of the NBA will place even more emphasis on athleticism and even in the post I can't see Zeller being an effective starter at either the power forward or center positions.
Even though Irving only played 11 games for the Blue Devils, he made a big impact on the Duke fan base, and he will continue to have our strong backing as he begins his second year. He proved as a rookie that in a league of point guards, he can hold his own against anyone. As a member of the USA Select team, Irving scrimmaged against the USA Olympic team and proved to his teammates and coaches that he belongs, throwing in some good-natured trash-talking with Kobe Bryant.
Philip is a Duke alum and a lifelong Duke basketball fan