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So What? The guy is a high school coach and is probably biased in Kyrie Irving's favor. Right? Not so fast. We are talking about former St. Patrick High School (New Jersey) coach, Kevin Boyle. "Are you aware of how good this kid is? " Per YahooSports' Michael Lee, this is the exciting phone message that Boyle received from his assistant who had just seen recent transfer, Kyrie Irving, dribble and shoot a basketball.

Boyle prophesied, during his tenure at St. Patrick's, that Irving would end up being the best guard ever out of New Jersey and recently predicted, in his interview with Lee, that Kyrie would be MVP this season and Boston would advance to the championship series.

In Kyrie's final season at St. Patrick High he averaged 24.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.0 blocks. Do you think the excitement about Irving coming to St. Patrick's was justified? Look at the stats. High-level, balanced numbers. They certainly show versatility, at least at the high school level.

How about the statement referring to Irving becoming the best guard ever out of New Jersey? How do you define "out"? Born, raised, attended school? Anyway, Boyle, now coach at Montverde Academy in Florida, made a bold prediction that, frankly, I find hard to dispute. Try it yourself. Kyrie went on to one year at Duke University and played well enough to be the first pick overall in the 2011 NBA draft.

Now we get to the predictions of MVP for the 2017-18 NBA season and Boston getting into the finals. Let's start with Most Valuable Player. I am sure that the sports media members casting votes use various criteria to determine their votes. They look at the statistics for each player under consideration, but that tells only part of the story. Figuratively plucking the player out of the team and trying to predict the teams post-plucking performance (say that three times fast) tells us a lot. Even though he seems to lean towards the complete, two-way player (he voted for Kawhi Leonard at number one last season), ESPN's Zach Lowe had this to say:

The ability to manufacture shots, for yourself and your teammates, is the single most valuable skill in the NBA.

We know what Kyrie can do on offense. He is amazing, versatile and he is clutch. But how about passing and defense. Back to high school. Here is what his coach, Kevin Boyle, thought, via YahooSports' Michael Lee:

He’s very complete and plays his best under pressure. He’s an outstanding shooter, he gets to the rim and finishes with confidence and he can create. He’s good on defense and he has the potential to be great on defense.

Take the comments on defense out of the quote, and it sounds like the Irving of today. Great offense and shot creation. Defense is, for the most part, determination to just plain do it. He will do that under Brad Stevens. The MVP's from recent seasons will still be in the mix this season. Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant should all be there. Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden could make a run.

Do not rule out Kyrie. Danny Ainge wanted this kid very badly, and there is a reason. The only problem I see is that figuratively taking Irving out of the team still leaves plenty of talent. Al Horford is proven and Gordon Hayward could rise to the next level. And I still feel that Marcus Smart can achieve stardom. Pretty good cast, even without Kyrie. That may adversely affect the votes for Irving.

Russell Westbrook's lack of talented support helped his case last season. Leonard's shortage of talented teammates, however, did not get him the top spot. Curry and Durant faced the issue of competing with each other for the award. Chris Paul has now joined Harden in Houston. Paul George has joined Westbrook in Oklahoma City. Giannis, however, does not have other stars next to him. That might give him a better shot. Kyrie needs a spectacular season to win MVP but he can do it. Are we aware of how good this kid, Kyrie, is? Not yet!


And finally to the possibility of a Celtics run to the finals. This may come down to the question of what the Cleveland Cavaliers roster will look like and how good Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum can be. And Marcus Smart's weight (fat?) loss may be more important that we realize. We know what Al can do, and Gordon would fit well anywhere. Kyrie Irving is the key here.

The Celtics have only four players returning from the group that went to the Eastern Conference Finals. I doubt their early-season record will show how really good they are. Once Brad Stevens' most-frequently-used rotation gets set, things should fall into place, but expect different rotations for certain opposing teams.

Linking talent with intelligence paves the way for NBA success. High character is the third quality that almost assures it. I am very impressed with Kyrie Irving's level of intelligence. Ditto for Smart, Brown, Horford, Tatum and other Celts team members. Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens have already proven that they can identify and secure high-level NBA talent and have the strategies to employ it.

Now the question. Are we aware of how good this kid, Irving, is and how good our team can be? Once the early-season bugs are exterminated and the rotations are in place, expect Kyrie and his team to get to the NBA Championship finals. We just need a little bit of luck. You always need luck!

Irving's high school stats viaMike Kenney of HighSchoolSports.NJ
Photo credit: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images North America

Tom Lane 9/14/2017 01:11:00 PM Edit
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