CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving began his first pro season as the top pick and ended it as the top rookie.Cleveland's smooth, playmaking point guard has been chosen as the NBA''s Rookie of the Year, a person familiar with the voting told the Associated Press on Sunday.Irving's selection is hardly a surprise since the 20-year-old led all first-year players in scoring - 18.5 points per game - and renewed hope for Cleveland's franchise. He'll receive the award on Tuesday, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not yet announced the winner.ESPN.com and The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported Irving's win.Results of the voting won't be available until Tuesday, but it's safe to assume Irving's victory will be lopsided. After Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio suffered a season-ending knee injury, Irving was far and away the best all-around player in the rookie class.The Cavs used the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft to select Irving, who played in just 11 games as a freshman at Duke because of a toe injury. However, it didn't take long for the 6-foot-3 Irving to establish himself as one of the game's rising stars.With a fearlessness on the floor, Irving made clutch shots, orchestrated fourth-quarter comebacks and managed to keep the Cavs competitive and in the playoff picture for several months before they traded guard Ramon Sessions in March and injuries took their toll.Irving is the second Cavaliers player to win the award, joining LeBron James in 2004.Irving's is the final postseason award to be announced by the league. On Saturday, James, who spent seven seasons in Cleveland before signing with Miami, won his third MVP award in four seasons.Irving recently treated himself to a postseason vacation in the Bahamas. In June, he's expected to play on the Cavs summer league team in Las Vegas and will be part of a U.S. Select Team which will train against the American Olympic team going to the London Games.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- On April 28, 2017, the Celtics ended the Bulls’ lone season of what Rajon Rondo brilliantly called “The Three Alphas,” closing out the first-round playoff series in six games.
As the Bulls begin their 54th season in franchise history Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., only Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio remain from that roster.
When John Paxson first succeeded Jerry Krause in April 2003, he took two years to similarly flip the roster, keeping only Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.
This makeover was Paxson’s doing, beginning with the June 2017 trade of Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. His last complete overhaul produced 10 playoff appearances in 11 seasons, albeit with only five series victories in that span.
Wednesday night begins the quest for sustained success.
“We have revamped this roster in a big way and a way in that we can look at this team and we see real talent,” Paxson said back on the team’s media day in late September. “We see a versatile roster. We see depth on this roster. We see some leadership on this roster which we haven’t had.
“And because of that our goals this year are really simple. First and foremost, we want to compete at a high, high level. And when you compete at a high level, you have an ability to be a playoff-caliber team. And we set that as a goal. (Coach) Jim (Boylen) talks about it. He’s not afraid of it. And our guys through their work have shown us that they want to make that commitment. So we feel good about that.”
There’s plenty to feel good about during a preseason. That’s when each team’s regular-season record is unblemished. The tests start for real against the Hornets, followed by Friday’s visit to Memphis.
Four of the Bulls’ first five games are on the road but all are against teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season. Saturday’s home opener is against the defending NBA champion Raptors, who defeated the Pelicans in overtime Tuesday night in their first game since Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers.
Plenty has to go right for the Bulls to make the jump from 22 victories to the playoffs. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen need to step towards stardom. Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young need to continue being the low-maintenance complementary pieces they've shown to be during their careers. Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. need to stay healthy. Coby White and Kris Dunn need to contribute off the bench.
Still, the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is wide open. The Bulls know this. It’s why Boylen indeed gave voice to the goal on that same September media day.
“Our goals for the season are to make the playoffs,” Boylen said then. “And every day to prepare like we’re a playoff team. Every day to work like we’re a playoff-bound team. I’m excited for that. I think that’s the only way to do it. There’s no way that we were going to stand up here and say, ‘Hey, I hope we can win 10 more games or we hope we can be better.’ We want to get to the mountain top.’’
The games count for real starting Wednesday. It’s time to start climbing.
With player heights long a topic of question and debate, the NBA informed teams that all players must be measured by a team physician this training camp.
It’s all part of the league’s push towards transparency, which includes detailed reports on officiating and other initiatives.
So who grew and who shrank among the Bulls?
Wendell Carter Jr. dropped from 6 feet, 10 inches to 6-foot-9, which will do nothing to change the narrative that he's an undersized big man. Kris Dunn moved from 6-4 to 6-3. Daniel Gafford isn’t 6-11, as first advertised when drafted, but 6-10. And Denzel Valentine is no longer 6-6 but 6-4.
The Bulls even pushed down Coby White’s flamboyant hairstyle and discovered he’s 6-4, not 6-5.
As for those who grew, well, Zach LaVine’s All-Star candidacy now features him as a 6-6 guard, not 6-5. New big man Luke Kornet is really big; he’s 7-2, not 7-1. And Shaq Harrison somehow grew from 6-4 to 6-7.
That’s the official Bulls’ roster.