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Published: 5/15/2012

Irving claiming top award

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving directs the offense against the Chicago Bulls in an NBA basketball game in Cleveland. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving directs the offense against the Chicago Bulls in an NBA basketball game in Cleveland.
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CLEVELAND — There was never any doubt Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving would be named the NBA's rookie of the year. The only suspense was when — and by how much.

Irving, as has been expected for months, will be presented with the award today, capping a season which he began as the No. 1 overall pick and ended it as the clear-cut top rookie.

The Cavs sent out a release Monday saying they will make a "major announcement" along with the league today at Cleveland Clinic Courts, the team's training facility in Independence, Ohio. The team did not specify what will be announced, but the Associated Press was one of several media outlets to report on Sunday that Irving will win the award.

The 20-year-old averaged 18.5 points to lead all rookies — and the Cavs — in scoring.

He also averaged 5.4 assists, finished first among rookies in field-goal percentage, and dominated several games in the fourth quarter, rallying Cleveland to wins.

Irving has a chance to become the fourth unanimous winner in voting by a nationwide media panel.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (2011), San Antonio center David Robinson (1990), and Houston center Ralph Sampson (1984) are the only players to receive every first-place vote. Chris Paul missed by one vote in 2006.

Irving is expected to be the second Cleveland player to win the award, joining LeBron James in 2004. Irving's arrival has helped the Cavaliers continue to rebuild following James' departure as a free agent two years ago.

After the Cavs finished 21-45 in a lockout-shortened season, the 6-foot-3 Irving promised to raise his game in the years ahead.

"There is no limit for me," Irving said. "The only way I can go is up. That's the only way I want to go.

"This season was a learning experience. I learned what to do and what not to do. Going forward, I want to apply it next season and take it to another level."

The Cavaliers should be able to add some pieces to surround Irving in next month's draft. Cleveland has three of the top 34 picks and has a chance to win the draft lottery.

Last year, the pingpong balls bounced in the Cavaliers' favor, allowing them to draft Irving, who played just 11 games in college at Duke because of a toe injury.

Irving, who cracked the starting lineup for the opener, made dazzling plays and clutch shots all season. His only setback was a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 10 games.



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