Tier 2 — Franchise-Changing Stars
No. 1 overall pick, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2011
Now we’re to the tier of players who, even when in college, were seriously considered to be franchise-changing selections — players who, based on their pre-draft sample, had a very, very high likelihood of not just becoming a star, but changing the fortunes of a franchise for the better.
Kyrie Irving is our first case study. Despite missing a huge chunk of the year with a foot injury, Irving’s talent was undeniable, as his ability to create his own shot may have been the best of anyone on this list. Irving’s handle definitely fit that bill, and he was able to consistently get to the rim despite less than ideal athleticism. There wasn’t much to really dissuade one from believing Irving wasn’t a true primary initiator in his college sample, and his volume shooting from 3 — 46.2 percent on 3.5 attempts per game, many on the pull-ups that would become his trademark — suggested that he was an ideal fit for where the game was headed as well. He even posted a 3.0 steal rate in college, and while he still showed glimpses of the defensive issues that would plague him in the NBA, that measure proved he had the athleticism to succeed at the next level. Irving’s multiple elite skills helped set the bar for him as an NBA initiator, and even his limited college sample showed that.