How Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving Can Win NBA MVP in the Next 5 Years
Kyrie Irving is an All-Star, former Rookie of the Year winner and first overall draft pick.
He's also just 20 years old.
The sky may not even be the limit for the Cavs' young point guard, as he's quickly becoming one of the NBA's best.
While he's already won MVP honors at last year's Rising Stars Challenge, could a league MVP trophy be in his immediate future?
The answer is absolutely, as long as a few things fall into place.
1. Team Improvement
First and foremost, no MVP is ever going to come from a last place team, which is exactly where the Cavs find themselves in the Central Division.
With a 14-34 start to the season, the Cavs still have a long way to go despite their infusion of young talent. To their credit, Cleveland is building their team the right way and not settling for mediocrity like so many other NBA teams seem to do (I'm looking at you, Milwaukee).
The Cavs will have cap space and at least four draft picks this summer, including two in the first round. They have the assets to make a splash in free agency, the trade market, or in the draft.
It took the Oklahoma City Thunder three drafts to build the foundation of their team, as they've now become one of the NBA's best in just a few short years. The Cavs are entering draft number three of their rebuilding process, and could see a major turnaround as early as next season.
The Cavs are headed up, and could soon possess the record needed for voters to take Irving's MVP candidacy seriously.
Every year there are at least a few very deserving candidates for the MVP award, but ultimately only one can come away with the prize.
Irving can't just be a solid choice for MVP; he has to be the best choice.
Here are the past ten winners of the coveted award:
All of these players aren't just stars; they're superstars in the league. Rose is the only one among the list who isn't a Hall-of-Famer right now, but still has the time to develop into one.
The point is there are plenty of great players in the league who will put up gaudy stats, win 50-60 games for their team, and never win the award. The NBA today is filled with stars, and Irving needs to separate himself from the rest of the group to have any chance of coming away with the award.
The good news for Irving, and the other young stars of today, is that players on this list like Duncan, Nash, Garnett and Nowitzki are all on the downside of their careers now and likely won't challenge him for any more MVP's.
This group will likely be Irving's primary adversaries moving forward, and who he'll have to separate himself from.
A win over Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder on February 2 was certainly a nice building block for Irving, and something MVP voters will pay attention to when trying to decide between leading candidates in the future.
3. Personal Growth
Irving may be an amazing 20-year-old player, but he is still just 20 years old.
With all the positives that he brings to the table, there are many areas of his game that need tightening up.
One would be his defense, which was absolutely horrendous last season. While it's been better this year, getting it on the level of a Chris Paul or Mike Conley would definitely be a plus.
While he leads all point guards in scoring at 24.0 points per game, Irving is a disappointing 29th in assists with just 5.4 a contest.
To his credit, the Cavs don't have a true second scoring option which forces Irving to be more scorer and less facilitator. Perhaps with another big scoring threat or improved play from Dion Waiters, Irving's assist numbers could go up.
Another facet Irving must continue to improve on is his leadership ability.
While he's done a remarkable job thus far considering his age, a recent game against the Detroit Pistons left much to be desired.
According to a game report by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Irving was mostly to blame, saying:
Different things happened throughout the game kind of (ticked) me off and I just let it affect me...My energy wasn't there. It was there in the first quarter, then second and third I was disinterested.
As a team leader and future MVP candidate, Irving just can't let the game get away from him like this. Being benched for the entire fourth quarter should be taken as an embarrassment, especially for someone who's so talented at the end of games.
Hopefully this is merely just an isolated incident, but it does show that Irving has some work to do in the psychological department of games as well.
To recap, Irving is a terrific talent who would be considered for the MVP award already if the Cavs had anywhere close to a respectable record.
In the next five years, we should see the Cavs grow into a contender, other MVP candidates' games begin to fade, and an overall improvement from Irving himself.
Don't be surprised to see Irving hoisting the hardware soon and potentially on multiple occasions.
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