Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving has been named the recipient of the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as the 2011-12 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Award, the NBA, Kia Motors and Cavaliers announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Irving received a total of 592 points, including 117 first-place votes out of a possible 120, from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote received.
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).
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