Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

The rebuilding continues

The rebuilding continued for the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night in the NBA draft, as the Cavs found coach Byron Scott his point guard in Duke’s Kyrie Irving at No. 1 and selected Texas power forward Tristan Thompson.

Irving is quick, tough and intelligent and if he had played the entire season last year there’s little doubt he would have been a clear No. 1. He made 46 percent of his 3s in college and 90 percent of his free throws.

Scott won in New Jersey with point guard Jason Kidd and in New Orleans with point guard Chris Paul. If there was ever a player to match with a coach, this seems to be it.

As for Thompson, he has a chance to be the second best NBA player to ever come out of Canada. He’s a rebounder – he led the Big 12 with almost four offensive boards a game last year – and a shot blocker. He can also get to the free throw line – he averaged 7.3 free throws a game last year – but was a Shaq-like 48 percent on those free throws.

In a lot of ways, Thompson is a younger version of young J.J. Hickson, which makes us wonder what the Cavs have in mind here.

We know there are plenty of people who wanted the Cavs to select Jonas Valanciunas as he was sitting there when the team picked at No. 4, but we don’t know. Valanciunas only played 14 minutes a game in 14 games last year in the Euroleague and we’re not enamored with foreign players the way some people are.

Plus, Thompson is foreign, even if he did play at Texas.

General manager Chris Grant is going to get some grief for the Thompson pick because too many people fell in love with Valanciunas despite never seeing him. We’ll obviously find out over the next few years if the team made a mistake or not.

But if Irving turns out to be as good as everyone thinks he will be, and Thompson turns into a solid player, then we have to rate this draft as a winner.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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