Byron Scott: “We said all along if we can get these two guys we would be a happy camper”
by Chris Fedor
Going into the NBA Draft last Thursday night, the story of the night was the Cleveland Cavaliers. After one of the most difficult seasons in the history of the franchise, the Cavs won the NBA Draft Lottery and had two of the first four picks in the NBA Draft. While this year’s draft was considered one of the weaker ones in a very long time, it was the first step in what looks to be a lengthy rebuilding process in the post-LeBron era in Cleveland. It looks like the Cavs are off to a very good start.
When Byron Scott was in New Jersey, he had Jason Kidd. Then he went to New Orleans and after a miserable first season, the Hornets drafted Chris Paul out of Wake Forest. Everywhere Scott has gone throughout his career he has had an elite point guard running his offense. It looks like that trend will continue in Cleveland thanks to the drafting of Kyrie Irving. The Cavs made the former Duke point guard the first overall pick Thursday night and while it’s premature to start making comparisons to players like Kidd or Chris Paul, there is no question that Irving was the best player in the draft and he plays the most important position on the court in Byron Scott’s system. Irving was drafted to be the new face of the Cavs and the team also got him a running mate with the fourth pick in Texas forward Tristan Thompson.
The roster is nowhere near complete, the Cavs have a number of holes, it will require patience to build something sustainable, but coming off the season Cleveland is coming off of, there is reason for fans of the wine and gold to be hopeful for the future. Byron Scott joined ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland with Tony Rizzo to talk about drafting Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, what he is expecting from Irving being the number one pick, how much of a plus it is that Irving and Thompson are coming into the NBA together, how concerned he is that his team doesn’t have a go-to scorer, what he thinks the most important trait is for an NBA point guard, and how they arrived at Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.
On what it was that they liked about Kyrie Irving:
“I think all of it to be honest with you. I think the fact that he’s a great point guard, he’s a great kid, he’s won everywhere he has been. You watch some of the tape on him at Duke before the injury and after the injury and the kid is just a winner. Like you said I have always had in my system I have been blessed to have Jason Kidd in New Jersey and Chris Paul in New Orleans. Now I get Baron Davis and then Kyrie. I’m very excited about the season and I think this kid is going to be a great player.”
What he is looking for from Irving:
“I’m really looking for him to run the offense and just learn the NBA game because the speed of the game here is a lot different than college. He’s very adept to running pick and rolls which I saw at Duke, which is a lot of the things that we do. I want him to just come in here right away when he gets an opportunity when the season starts and training camp starts and just learn the system. That’s the number one thing. After that, everything will take care of itself but watching him play he’s a true point guard. He’s a guy that looks to get his teammates involved first but he also has the ability to take over games when need be.”
Whether or not it is important that Irving and Thompson are coming into the NBA together:
“I think it is a plus. The fact that they’re coming in together, they get a chance to know each other, be on the court together, and gain that experience together as well. I think for both of these guys because I know how they are, just being around them a little bit and how intelligent they are on the basketball court I think they’re going to lean on each other as well which is a good thing. I think in the next few years you have a very good combination of a great point guard with a power forward who can really get up and down the floor and can play different positions. That versatility I think helps us as well.”
How concerned he is that the Cavs don’t have a legitimate scorer right now:
“No that’s not a real big concern right now. It’s still very early. We got two guys that we really thought were great fits for our team and this organization. Chris Grant did a real good job last night making sure we got these guys. Then there’s some other work to be done but right now we’re very happy with the selections.”
How he thought Chris Grant did during his first NBA Draft:
“Excellent. I was in the war room the whole time and I got a great chance to see Chris work along with the guys he works with on an everyday basis. Those guys had a great chemistry, they worked extremely well together, and Chris was extremely busy on the phones and everything. I was very proud to sit there and watch him be a general manager. He was really good at his first time of being able to handle that situation. I was very proud of the way he handled it.”
On the most important trait he looks for in a point guard:
“For me it’s vision. I want to make sure the guy can see a little bit of everything and he sees the plays before they happen. With Jason Kidd that was exactly what we had and the same thing with Chris Paul. The one thing that people have been saying since this draft started is that Kyrie reminds them of Chris Paul. Kyrie is a different player and I think the comparisons are great but that’s not something we’re putting on him. We just want him to come in here and learn the game. I think he is one of those guys that’s going to be pretty special when it’s all said and done.”
On the process they used during the draft to get Tristan Thompson:
“Our process was easy to be honest with you when we got to four. Enes Kanter went three to Utah and our guy was right there on the board, he was ahead of Jonas (Valanciunas) and we went with the best guy that was available at that position. We said all along, especially after all of our workouts, if we can get these two guys, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thomas (Thompson) we would be a happy camper and we’re very happy today.”