Before the season began, I chose Kyrie Irving as my MVP pick. Not many were with me, and when Kyrie went down for more than a month with an injury, he was toast. Or was he? What transpired over the past week has me thinking this kid could made a second-half run that gets him into the Top 5 — or maybe even higher.
First, the coaches picked him as an All-Star reserve.
Second, he went out and dropped 40 on Boston, 35 on Milwaukee and a dagger of a game-winner from 28 feet to defeat the Toronto Raptors at the buzzer Saturday night, capping a 32-point night.
Let’s go to the videotape:
Damn, ya know?
Well, I’ll be damned if I am going to let a week like that go unrewarded. So I am welcoming Kyrie back to the MVP rankings, bidding adieu to a couple stragglers who made the Top 10 last week, and now will proceed to give a little hope to Cavs fans.
This is a lost season, right? Especially with Anderson Varejao done for the season, right?
Well, maybe not.
GM Chris Grant pulled off a fleecing of Prestian proportions earlier this week when he traded Jon Leuer to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a No. 1 pick. This wasn’t quite as lopsided a move as the time Presti, then in Seattle in his first season with the Sonics, traded a second-round pick to Phoenix for two first-rounders and Kurt Thomas.
But this was a monumentally lopsided deal. And you know what? It may just get the Cavs into the playoffs.
The Cavs (13-32) are currently the 13th best team in the Eastern Conference, 19 games under .500. The Boston Celtics are currently holding down the eighth spot, yet they are three games under .500 and have lost six in a row — their longest skid in six years.
So in order to make the playoffs, let’s assume someone is going to have to win 39-42 games. And if we use that low number, the Cavs are going to need to go 36-13 to reach 39 Ws.
With all due respect to Tony Parker, who is the subject of today’s featured column by Jan Hubbard, the young fella in Cleveland may just be the very best point guard on the planet right now. Heck, Hubbard even said so himself last summer when he was covering Team USA training camp in Las Vegas and watched Irving school Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
And when you have a guy that talented, even without much of a supporting cast, you can have yourself a playoff team. If anybody should realize that fact, it is the folks in Cleveland.
The Cavs will play eight of their next nine games at home, with the only road trip a short one to Detroit. Heck, they could take a bus there if they so choose. The opponents during than span include the Spurs, Thunder, Nuggets and Warriors, so it ain’t gonna be easy. But the Cavs also have two games remaining against the Celtics, and if they win both they’d win the season series 3-1.
So count them out at your own peril. Me? I consider them the ultimate sleeper team.
And if they turn things around behind Irving, guess what? That preseason prediction might not have been as off-base as it seemed just a couple weeks ago.
On to the rankings …