The Boomers, Australia’s senior men’s national basketball team, are hoping to snatch up star NBA rookie Kyrie Irving to play with the team at this year’s London Olympics.
Irving, a 6’3 (190 cm) point guard, was the first overall selection by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2011 NBA Draft and just 13 games into his professional career, Irving has gotten off to an impressive start averaging 17.7 points and five assists for an overachieving Cavs squad.
Irving was born in Australia while his father was playing professionally in Melbourne during the early 90s and holds dual citizenship.
The 20-year-old told the Akron Beacon Journal that he hadn’t yet made his mind up and his decision would depend upon whether he would be willing to fully commit his entire offseason to the program.
For Australian basketball the addition of a player like Irving would be a major draw. In only a short time he has already shown great abilities- his perimeter shooting and penetrating are appreciated, but his ability to find open teammates, make sound decisions and lead are special for such a young player with very little experience.
The Boomers already feature an established star at the point guard position, former Portland Trailblazer Patty Mills, but the addition of Irving would be a definite upgrade. He’s a player many deem to be a perennial All-Star not far down the road, however there a couple of question marks worth considering.
The first is obviously his commitment levels. To play international basketball, especially at an event like the Olympics, and represent your country is something that should be cherished rather than being hummed and hawed about. Irving appears to be more American at heart and if he does decide to take this opportunity, Basketball Australia must be certain he will give the program, and the country, his all.
There is also the fact that playing for the Boomers may restrict him from ever playing for Team USA in the future.
Also worth considering is the continuity of the current Boomers squad. While there’s been a lot of changeover since Beijing, guys like Andrew Bogut, Mills, Matt Nielsen, Mark Worthington and Peter Crawford have been with the squad a number of years. They know the system. Throwing in a guy who will demand the spotlight and the ball may be something that won’t benefit the team in the long run.
Irving is already star and will grow into one of the better players in the NBA within a few years. Adding a player of such quality for a tournament of great significance couldn’t hurt, could it?
AP Photo/Mark Duncan