Point guard Kyrie Irving went from a draft day uncertainty to unquestionably the top prospect from the 2011 NBA Draft class.
After playing just 11 games during his only season at Duke, Irving was selected with the first overall pick by Cleveland last summer and instantly turned around a franchsie in its lowest point.
Tuesday, Irving will be named Rookie of the Year for his efforts.
In his first season with the Cavaliers, the 20-year-old averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game but individual statistics don’t tell the full story of his impact.
The Cavaliers were still trying to recover from the departure of LeBron James as his decision to join the Heat in free agency devastated the team.
To make matters even worse, James didn’t announce his choice until June 7, a week after the free agency period had begun and Cleveland couldn’t land any of the premier players available during the summer of 2010.
Forced to carry on without its superstar, injuries decimated an already troubled team, as only two players appeared in more than 75 games for Cleveland.
A strong start to the season eliminated any chance of submitting one of the worst seasons in NBA history, the Cavaliers did manage to set a record.
Cleveland dropped a record 26-straight games, surrendering 100 or more points in 22 of those contests, finally defeating the Clippers in overtime to end the streak.
Thirteen days later, the Cavaliers once again found redemption through the Clippers.
The Clippers won 32 games during the 2010-11 season and improbably, their pick turned out to be the first overall section used to take Irving.
Davis was bought out of his contract as the Cavaliers exercised their amnesty clause prior to the start of the season, clearing the way for Irving to take control of the franchise.
Scouts were questioning his jump shot after his freshman season and his debut did little to change their opinions. Irving struggled to shoot from the field, managing only six points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field during a 104-96 loss to Toronto.
While his shooting was a bit off, Irving displayed a knack for running the offense, dishing out seven assists and committing just one turnover in 26 minutes of action.
Two nights later, he displayed his scoring touch, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting with another seven assist performance.
In 51 appearances, he scored 20 or more points on 26 occasions. During a home game against New Jersey, Irving dueled Deron Williams, out scoring him 32-27, proving he can compete with the elite point guards.
During All-Star game festivities, the Rookie-Sophomore game was reformatted to include a pool of the youngest talent in the league to be drafted by Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal into two teams.
Irving was selected second overall, but quickly proved to be the most dominant player in the contest.
He drained all eight of his attempts from beyond the arc en route to a 34 point, nine assist performance, leading Barkley’s squad to a 146-133 victory
Irving ranked second in assists per game, behind only Ricky Rubio, even though his team managed just 93 points per game, fifth worst in the entire league.
He served as the team leader in scoring and assist averages while leading the team to a 21 win season, two more than the previous year even with the condensed schedule that took away 16 contests.
Throughout the season, his jump shot served as one of his biggest strengths, as Irving shot 46.9 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from 3-point range.
Three times he finished with double-digit assist totals, but his passing came at the expense of his scoring.
For all of his strengths, Irving couldn’t put his combination of precision passing and sharp shooting together, finishing with only one double-double, which came during a loss all season.
After one season, there is no question Irving is the head of his class. The most troubling thing for opponents is he hasn’t even put everything together yet.