Kyrie as the franchise guy

You’re starting an NBA franchise from scratch and you own the third pick. Who do you take?

Heat star LeBron James has been chosen No. 1. That makes sense. He’s a three-time league MVP and the game’s best player.

Thunder forward Kevin Durant goes second. He’s the second-best player, a scoring machine and still only 24 years old.

So, who do you take?

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, perhaps?

It’s something to think about. Irving is 6-foot-3 and a point guard who can score. He’s the reigning Rookie of the Year, current Eastern Conference player of the week and an All-Star reserve.

Last week, he became just the fifth player in league history to score at least 30 points in three consecutive games before his 21st birthday — joining James, Durant, Bernard King and John Drew. That’s some pretty good company right there, kids.

Irving is dynamic all the way around. It’d be difficult to find a better ballhandler. He can get to the basket whenever he darn well pleases. He’s lethal from the perimeter, as evidenced by his 61-percent shooting in the previous three games.

Oh, and he’s extremely clutch. FOX Sports Ohio play-by-play man Fred McLeod has dubbed Irving, “Mr. Fourth Quarter,” and he really is.

Now that we know about Irving, let’s take a look at some others you’d have to consider (in random order):

DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kings: Unbelievable talent and throwback on-the-blocks guy who can really pass. But about those knucklehead issues . . .

Kevin Love, PF, Timberwolves: Modern-day Moses Malone who scores, rebounds and possesses range extending beyond the three-point line. But about those non-committal issues . . .

Tony Parker, PG, Spurs: Four-time champion, reigning Western Conference Player of the Week and a point guard in the truest sense. But former Cavs GM Wayne Embry always said small guards lose their legs on the other side of 30. Parker turns 31 in May.

Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls: Former MVP has to be strongly considered. When he was healthy, he was the league’s fastest player with the ball. On the downside, he’s coming off a major knee injury and has missed the season. No telling what he’ll be when he returns.

Carmelo Anthony, F, Knicks: Putting together his best season yet, he’s a relentless scorer who can stick it in your face from anywhere. But is he a good enough team player?

Chris Paul, PG, Clippers: Got what he wanted last season with a trade to a deep team and true wingman in Blake Griffin. Where he goes from here will define his legacy.

Blake Griffin, PF, Clippers: An absolute specimen and physical freak who soars through the air like a superhero. Compared to other superstars, however, he’s somewhat limited in the half court.

Dwight Howard, C, Lakers: Rebounds, blocked shots and drama overflow for whichever team he plays. It’s the drama part that would make a team majorly hesitant.

Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics: Another guy who’s definitely in the conversation. Assist machine, outstanding defender and can score despite his lack of an outside touch (although that’s improving). But like Rose, Rondo has a major knee injury. That makes him a bit of a question mark.

Josh Smith, PF, Hawks: Nice player. Not the third best in the league. Maybe not even in the top 10. Kinda gets on management’s nerves, too. No thanks.

Jrue Holiday, PG, Sixers: All-Star reserve who doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Also still young, as he’ll forever hold the distinction of being the first person born in the 1990s to play in the NBA. But we probably won’t know if he’s better than Irving for five or six years.

Damian Lillard, PG, Trail Blazers: He’s played half a season. He deserves serious consideration. Similar in many ways to Kyrie, but without the yo-yo-like handle. But any time a guy is frontrunner for Rookie of the Year in a strong draft class, as Lillard is, you gotta take him seriously.

James Harden, SG, Rockets: Flat-out deadly in the open floor, ably driving to the basket and finishing or drawing fouls. A good teammate, strong ballhandler and proficient perimeter shooter. Still, continues to seem like more of a No. 2 guy — or if No. 1, someone who needs a strong 1A.

Andrew Bynum, C, Sixers: Immensely talented. Immensely injured. Plus, you’d have to talk him out of bowling.

Anthony Davis, PF, Hornets/Pelicans: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft clearly has NBA ability, and the looks of a potential star. But Davis can’t seem to stay healthy so far.

And there you have it: The potential franchise guys.

Most warrant thinking long and hard. Many have yet to reach their peak — which is the idea behind finding a guy around whom to build a team.

So, who do you take with the No. 3 pick in the franchise draft?

At the very least, Kyrie Irving has your mind spinning.

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO