Photo by Tim Dubravetz, WKYC-TV.
Photo by Tim Dubravetz, WKYC-TV.
INDEPENDENCE -- Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is the NBA's Rookie of the Year, winning the award with the same ease as he dribbled past defenders this season.
Irving received 117 of 120 possible first-place votes from a nationwide media panel of 120 writers and broadcasters.
Irving finished with 592 points, way ahead of Minnesota's Ricky Rubio (170) and Denver's Kenneth Faried (129), who was third.
Faried, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New York's Iman Shumpert received the other first-place votes, denying Irving's bid to become the fourth player to win the award unanimously.
The 20-year-old is the second Cleveland player to win the award, joining LeBron James in 2004.
The 6-foot-3 point guard averaged 18.5 points on .469 shooting, 3.7 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 30.5 minutes per game. He also shot .399 from three-point range and .872 from the free throw line.
Among all rookies, he ranked first in points per game (by a margin of 5.7 points) and free throw percentage, second in three-point percentage, assists per game and player efficiency rating (21.5) and fifth in field goal percentage.
Irving swept the NBA's Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award each month this season (Dec./Jan., Feb. and March) with the exception of April, in which he only played in six of a possible 16 games due to injury. He was also named MVP of the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge at the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend after posting game highs of 34 points and nine assists and shooting a perfect 8-8 from three-point range.
In receiving the NBA's Rookie of the Year award this season, he becomes just the second player in franchise history to receive the award (LeBron James) and the third No. 1 overall pick in the past four seasons to win the award, joining Chicago's Derrick Rose (2008-09) and the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin (2010-11).
He also joins Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Allen Iverson and James as the only No. 1 overall draft picks to average at least 18.0 points and 5.0 assists and is one of just six rookies in league history to post averages of at least 18.0 points, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steal and .450 shooting along with Alvan Adams, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Grant Hill and Tyreke Evans.
He and Larry Bird are the only rookies in NBA history to average over 18.0 points and shoot at least .399 from three-point range. In the fourth quarter this season, the 20-year-old led all rookies in scoring (6.4) while ranking fifth overall (behind only NBA All-Stars Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and Kevin Love). He also led all rookies in scoring in the final three minutes of games (3.2) and trailed only Chris Paul for the league lead.
On three occasions, Irving scored the game-winning basket or made the go-ahead free throws to lead the Cavaliers to victory: at Boston on Jan. 29, against Sacramento on Feb. 19 and at Denver on March 7. His game-winning layup at Boston made him the third-youngest player (19 years, 312 days) to make a game-winning shot (field goal or free throw) since 2002-03, behind only Kevin Durant (19 years, 48 days) and Shaun Livingston (19 years, 206 days).
As part of its supports of the Rookie of the Year Award, Kia Motors America donated, in Kyrie's name, a brand new 2012 Kia Sorento CUV to the New Jersey Roadrunners, his former AAU basketball team and program.
For the first time, the 2011-12 Kia NBA Rookie of the Award is part of a series of on-court performance awards called "The Kia NBA Performance Awards." The series, currently in its fifth season, is a significant part of the multiyear marketing partnership between Kia Motors America and the NBA, and also includes the Most Improved Player, Defensive Player, Sixth Man, Most Valuable Player of the Year Awards.
It also includes the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, which are awarded during the regular season.
The Associated Press