Despite being less than two months into the NBA season, many have already put a stamp on who they think will win NBA MVP this year. As always, there’s the usual candidates like LeBron James and James Harden. As of late, new names Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kyrie Irving have been floating around the past few weeks. Unlike the Giannis, however, Irving is widely considered to be a serious candidate, rather than a dark horse mention. Irving’s legitimacy as an MVP candidate is equal parts his dominance upon requesting a trade from the Cavaliers and his Celtics team’s Eastern Conference-best 23-5 record. While he and his team have had outstanding seasons so far, is that enough to warrant an MVP nod?
Irving’s 28 games as a Boston Celtic have been interesting for a number of reasons, one being the sudden and substantial adoration he has received from Boston fans. It’s as if Boston fans forgotten that he and LeBron were their sworn enemies just seven months ago. The late-game heroics of ex-Celtic Isaiah Thomas seem like a distant memory now that Irving has stolen the hearts of Celtics fans.
Like Irving, LeBron and Harden both have compelling storylines to boost their MVP chances. In his 15th season, LeBron is second in the league in average minutes a game and led his team to 19 victories despite a revolving door of injuries. Harden is leading the league in scoring (32.3 points a game) on one of the league’s most high-powered offenses.
While Kyrie’s decision to leave Cleveland looks to be paying off for him, his stats aren’t much better from his last season. In fact, his points, rebounds, assists, and three-point percentage numbers are down from last year.
So I just stumbled across this. And I have NO idea what to think about it. pic.twitter.com/LQzdjJjPtc
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 5, 2017
Though Irving’s crunch time stats are terrific, the rest of his stats aren’t much different from those of non-MVP candidates.
In short, Irving’s numbers aren’t enough to solidify himself as a contender for MVP. He is virtually the same player as last year, just with a more complete team. Because Irving is the best player on a top-seeded team who not-too-long-ago went on a 16-game win streak, his name is bound to come up in most conversations. Irving should certainly get credit for his role in Boston’s success, but it’s too early for him to be crowned MVP because of it.
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