Kyrie for MVP? It's Not Unrealistic...
An NBA account of twitter the other day asked for a hot take for the season. I put mine out there that I believed Kyrie Irving would finish in the top 3 for voting. Although some agreed, plenty of people thought I was nuts. Yet I got to thinking about it and it may not as unrealistic as you would think. Let’s look at some of the main reasons that this is entirely possible.
As of late, it seemingly has become more difficult to win the MVP award. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple double last year and still had some very good competition when the voting happened. James Harden came in second place and many people believed he had a better season then Westbrook due to his efficient numbers put up on a better team. You would think that they would both be back in the running this year but that may not be the case.
Both teams loaded up this offseason and while this is a good thing in terms of getting closer to a finals performance, it is not in terms of an MVP award. The Thunder went out and got two all-stars to put alongside Westbrook by trading for Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Many labeled them as the winners of the offseason. They will have much more talent and Westbrook will have a lot more help but his numbers will take a significant dip. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will need the ball in their hands to be successful so similar to Steph Curry last year, numbers are bound to drop.
For James Harden, much of his success was linked to playing a lot of point guard last season. He had the ball in his hands constantly which enabled him to lead the league in assists as well as put up 30 points a game. He was un-guardable with the ball in his hands and consistently proved just this. Yet they too went out and had a successful offseason by bringing in one of the greater point guards of all time in Chris Paul. With Paul on the team now, the Rockets team dynamic now changed quite a bit and expect Hardens assist numbers to take a big drop.
So where does this leave the MVP race? This leaves a new group to take over the race simply based off the possibilities of better numbers alone. Kawhi Leonard will be in the running especially if he takes a step up scoring wise. Many have speculated that this may be the season for LeBron to take over yet again and win another MVP award. Or will someone else come into the picture? This type of landscape gives Irving an excellent chance to jump into the running which brings me to my next point.
Irving’s spiked numbers
Kyrie Irving averaged 25.2 points a game last season in his most efficient season ever. For Irving to average such an elevated level of points playing alongside LeBron James, it makes you wonder what kind of numbers he may be able to put up for this Celtics team. The Celtics will have Gordon Hayward who will figure to put up 20 points a game but other than that, Irving will have free reign in this Celtics offense. Brad Stevens leads a pace and space offense that will give Irving an excess of open jumpers and wide-open lanes to the basket. If Thomas could average 29 in this offense then expect Irving to put 30 plus points and 6 or more assists.
An even weaker Eastern Conference
Finally, my last point is the conference Irving plays in. The Eastern Conference saw several all-stars leave for the west which has led to an extremely stacked Western Conference compared to an even weaker Eastern Conference that has already been weak for years. Weaker competition leads to better numbers almost always. This is only going to give Kyrie more and more opportunities to put up extremely impressive numbers all around. LeBron may just do the same and expect both former players to go at it at the top of the standings of the Eastern Conference as well as the top of the MVP voting.
To wrap up this argument, Kyrie Irving could very easily put up numbers close to 30 PPG and 6 APG. If he does this and the Celtics win 55 games or more, expect him to get a lot of MVP attention.