Mavericks’ Kyrie Irving delivers powerful take on Luka Doncic’s MVP run

Despite the stacked opposition, Mavericks star Kyrie Irving believes that Luka Doncic should win MVP due to these intangibles.

Mavericks' Kyrie Irving looking at Luka Doncic holding the MVP trophy, with cutouts of heads of Nikola Jokic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Jayson Tatum around Doncic

Luka Doncic has been playing at such a high level throughout the 2023-24 NBA season, and the Dallas Mavericks, as a result, have put their disappointing 2022-23 campaign completely in the rearview mirror. Following the Mavericks’ 111-92 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night that clinched the second 50-win campaign of Doncic’s career, the Slovenian superstar is now averaging 33.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 9.8 assists in 70 games this season — numbers that make him well-deserving of winning the Most Valuable Player award.

But it’s not just Doncic’s production on the court that makes him worthy of winning the MVP. According to Kyrie Irving, who has had a strong first full season with the Mavericks, he knew how “special” Doncic was going to be way as early as training camp when the 25-year old star came in with a renewed leadership mentality — a hallmark of a legitimate MVP.

“We knew how special this year was going to be just based on our practices, what Luka was doing, showcasing that all the time, really being more vocal, challenging his teammates, challenging me and doing it in his own way. That’s the true sign of an MVP,” Irving said in his postgame presser, per Joey Mistretta, Mavericks beat reporter for ClutchPoints.

Kyrie Irving has plenty of experience when it comes to suiting up alongside MVP-caliber players. Irving played alongside LeBron James and Kevin Durant, so he of all people would know that greatness doesn’t stop on the court, but rather, it carries over to the way one carries himself in the locker room and how one uplifts his teammates.

And with the Mavericks playing incredible basketball as of late, momentum and narrative may be on Luka Doncic’s side.

Luka Doncic’s case for MVP

Luka Doncic may have the best statistical case for winning his first MVP; Doncic will be the first-ever player in NBA history to average 33+ points, 9+ rebounds, and 9+ assists in a single season, provided he keeps those numbers until the end of the regular season. (He will; there are only two games left on the schedule after all.)

The Mavericks are seven points better, net-rating wise, whenever Doncic is on the floor (according to PBP Stats). Doncic is the be-all, end-all of the team, a heliocentric source of offense that can dominate night-in, night-out. Doncic’s ability to take on a heavy workload simplifies the game for his teammates, and the sheer number of open shots he creates due to the attention he draws is incredible.

How the Mavericks star stacks up against the opposition

The main knock on Luka Doncic’s MVP case is his purported lack of defense as well as his lack of team success relative to other worthy candidates. But the eye test shows that the Mavericks’ best player is trying harder on defense this year, especially with Kyrie Irving relieving him of some offensive-creation duties. Doncic remains a stout defender in the post, while he is also trying his best to be a passing-lane pest.

With the Mavericks reaching 50 wins on the year, voters cannot knock Doncic for being an empty stats player. Only six teams in the association have reached the half-century mark in wins, and Doncic is as responsible for that level of success as any other MVP candidates.

At the very least, Doncic should finish in the top-three of MVP voting, alongside Nikola Jokic, whom many believe should win his third MVP award, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the main catalyst of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s turnaround, and Jayson Tatum, the best player on the best team in the league.

It’s difficult to knock Jokic’s case for MVP; he is as impactful as ever (averaging 26-12-9 on 58 percent shooting from the field is insane) and the Denver Nuggets have, once again, re-assumed their place atop the Western Conference. Jokic undoubtedly is Doncic’s biggest competitor for MVP, and at least, it would not be a travesty if Doncic loses out to Jokic, as heartbreaking as that would be for Mavericks fans.

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