Wednesday, May 16

Kyrookie of the Year

Big congratulations to Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving, who won the 2011-12 NBA Rookie of the Year award in a landslide. Irving was superb for Cleveland in his inaugural campaign, averaging 18.5 ppg and 5.4 apg and almost single-handedly dragging the Cavs to mediocrity. Really excited to have this kid on our club for a few more years, because I think we've only seen the beginning. I'm stoked enough about the win that I don't really even feel the need to take a potshot at the only other Cav ever to win the league's RoY award.

78-75 Pacers (OK, a small one).

Irving was the CLEAR winner, garnering 117 of a possible 120 first-place votes, and if you know me you know where I'm going: who are these dummies who got it wrong? Jebus do I ever hate anonymous incompetence. What's interesting is that Ricky Rubio placed second (that's where I had him as well), but yet three other, different players garnered a single first-place vote. What is going on here?

My first suspicion is that the sportswriters guilty of this idiocy are doing the same thing that MVP voters do, insisting that the winner of an individual award have experienced team success as well. Forgetting how dumb that is in general, consider how incredibly inappropriate that is for the NBA Rookie of the Year award, given how the NBA's top rookies are all but assured to play for the leagues's worst clubs. Yet there are Kenneth Faried (Denver), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), and, unbelievably, Iman Shumpert (New York), all playing for playoff teams and headlining some weirdo's ballot.

Before I get to the numbers, did you see Kyrie Irving play this year? I'm not big on anecdotes, but wow did he ever pass the eye test. The fourth-quarter scoring, the court awareness, the ability to get to the rim and finish - yes sir, that's your top rookie. If you don't believe me, please look below at some statistics I've prepared with the help of ESPN and Basketball Reference (click to enlarge)

Irving vs Rubio
Look, this one is less close than people think. Rubio missed 10 more games than did Irving, scored eight points a game fewer, and posted a true shooting percentage 90 points lower than Irving (10% lower overall). Rubio was good, no doubt, and he racked up almost three more assists a game than Kyrie (thanks in some measure to Kevin Love), but in virtually all standard and advanced metrics (Irving's O rating, D rating, and PER were all way ahead of the Timberwolf's) Irving was the clear winner. Fortunately, it does appear that none of the voters put Rubio ahead of Irving, so we're good.

Irving vs Shumpert
Are you fucking kidding me? This writer should admit his or her mistake, and then be stripped of all voting rights for the rest of his or her life. I don't even mean just NBA award voting rights, I mean anything, no matter how trivial.

I mean, was Iman Shumpert better at anything this year than Kyrie Irving? Lok across the board - half as many points, half the assists, roughly half the PER, 80 points lower in TS% - what the fuck? I honestly don't even know what to say about this. Absolutely ridiculous.

Irving vs Leonard
It's OK - I hadn't heard of Kawhi Leonard either.

The Spurs first-year forward actually had a solid year, averaging eight points and five rebounds a game. He also played in nearly all of the Spurs games, though actually logged fewer minutes on the court than the Cavalier guard. But seriously, this is a solid season, not a Rookie of the Year season, and he had the benefit of an outstanding Spurs team around him all season as well. Put Irving on that Spurs club and Leonard on the Cavs and see who thrives more.

Irving vs Faried
The only one on the board that is even defensible, even though Faried is a reserve who played 2/3 the minutes of Irving this season. Actually, having read the second half of that sentence, I take back the "defensible" part, but you could talk me into Faried being a close second for this award. The Manimal was an efficient player when on the court, with a slightly higher PER than Irving and averages of 10.2 ppg and 7.7 rpg. The guy was a quality contributor for the Nuggets this year.

But compared to the numbers Irving put up, the way he instantly established himself as the Cavs' best player - there's no way you can honestly look at the numbers and the situations and come to any conclusion other than: Kyrie Irving was the Rookie of the Year in 2012. I'm interested to know how three people who write about professional basketball for a living seem to have missed that.

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