Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving makes an early case for MVP
Marred from injuries to Gordon Hayward (ankle, out for the season) and Al Horford ( Concussion, indefinite), the Boston Celtics are on cruise control, Spearheading their way is Kyrie Irving, as the noise surrounding the highly questionable Isaiah Thomas- Kyrie Irving trade by the Celtics' front office begins to die down being replaced by MVP chants echoed at the TD Garden.
Stats: 22.0 points, 5.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds
Uncle Drew's new crew
While the numbers don't seem to be stuffed on paper what's more impressive is how seamlessly Irving has blended well with his new teammates, sharing the ball and making things happen effortlessly on the court.
He did 'em dirty, check this dime out:
Interestingly enough, it's the Irving- Horford tandem that has surprised many on how quickly the duo's combination seems like they have been playing with each other for ages. As it takes a year, if not years; for other players to develop those subtle intricacies of chemistry with each other that help winning ball game:
When you have a dynamic big man that can pick-and-roll or pop out for the shot, Al Horford has always had an innate ability to gel with point guards no matter what team he's on. Most notably with former teammates Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder at the Atlanta Hawks.
With all things considered and Gordon Hayward no longer in play, this season provides the perfect platform to showcase what Irving has been yearning for; he will now get the chance to build a legacy without help from the King.
BUILDING ON DEFENCE
Back in Cleveland, there were two denunciations that Kyrie Irving was known for. One being his firm stance and belief on the shape of our planet, and the other being his lackadaisical effort on defence; at times non-existent.
But under the tutelage of Coach Brad Stevens, that might all change.
Defensive Ratings (Per 100 possessions):
Last year with the Cavs: 112
13 games with the Celtics: 97
Should we see this remarkable transformation continue to the end of the season? It would become impossible to ignore Kyrie Irving as an MVP candidate and the Celtics as a legitimate title contender.
Note: The Celtics are currently leading all teams in Defensive ratings at 95.4 (1st of 30).
Although Brad Stevens has already hinted that this team would not name team captains, and will instead rely on a lead-by-committee approach this season ;yet team mates have been impressed with the amount of 1-on-1 communication by Irving in training thus far.
Jaylen Brown acknowledged, “That’s going to happen. He’s got a lot of experience, playing at a high level. It’s a learning mechanism for me; learning how he moves, utilizing some of his game adding it to my game and being a better defender. If I can guard Kyrie Irving, I can guard the majority of guys in this league. Getting stops on him is going to make me better and make him better.”
Perhaps this indicates that Irving is embracing a different kind of leadership role; A role that requires him to be less vocal, and more by his actions towards the team both on-and-off the court- but a true leader on this young team nonetheless.
Fellow teammate Al Horford when asked about Kyrie's leadership role:
"I'm just glad that [Irving is] in the right situation for him. He gets to lead our team, and really the key is him always being in the right positions. One of the things that I'm looking at on film so far is that he's always in the right spots. And if he's not, he's making effort and hustle plays and things like that. Guys, we see that, and we really appreciate that. He's really taken the lead on that, and he's been great for us on the ball."
Only time will tell whether Kyrie can move forward here on and out, The last Celtic to win MVP was Larry Bird in 1985-86. While it seems unlikely he will come out on top of the MVP race at the end of the season, at least he's on the right track with an early start.