Cheered on at the Prudential Center in Newark by family and friends, not far from where he starred at St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, N.J., the 19-year-old Irving showed no signs of any lingering problems with a right foot injury as he walked up the stairs to shake hands with commissioner David Stern.
Despite playing 11 games in his only college season because of a toe injury, Irving was too good to pass up with the Cavaliers’ first No. 1 pick since taking LeBron James in 2003. Irving has said he has no health concerns, making him the best choice in what’s been called a weak draft.
“I didn’t have any doubts about going to No. 1. I was looking to the organization to pick who they felt was the right choice,’’ Irving said.
The selection of Thompson was a bit of a surprise. The Cavaliers were reportedly interested in Lithuania center Jonas Valanciunas, but they may have been turned off by his uncertain contract situation with a pro club in his home country. Valanciunas went fifth to the Raptors.
The Timberwolves took Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick. The Jazz then took Turkish big man Enes Kanter, who was ruled ineligible at Kentucky.