The Boston Celtics made a huge splash this offseason, trading for star Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.
Irving wanted to get out from under the shadow of Cavs' superstar LeBron James, so he demanded a trade and ended up in Boston. With fellow star Gordon Hayward now out for the season after suffering a gruesome leg injury in the first game, the Celtics need Irving even more.
Irving is the unquestioned star of the franchise now, and he has legitimate MVP aspirations if he can continue to shine.
The Celtics will certainly need Irving to play at an MVP level if they're going to justify trading away former star point Isaiah Thomas, as he's now their top scoring threat and primary ball handler.
That said, there are some things he needs to do in order to rise in the MVP standings and garner some legitimate discussion.
Below are three things Irving needs to do in order to enter the MVP race as a serious candidate:
Get the No. 1 seed
Since starting the year 0-2, with losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics have started to turn things around, winning three-straight matchups since then.
The Celtics got the No. 1 seed last year with Isaiah Thomas leading the way, but that had as much to do with the Cavs struggling as it did with the Celtics succeeding.
Boston finished 53-29 last season, which would have only been good for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.
In order to get Irving into the MVP discussion, the Celtics are going to have to get up closer to the 60-win mark.
Beat the Cavs
The Celtics kept things close in a 102-99 opening-night loss to the Cavs, even after watching as Hayward went down, but a loss is still a loss.
If Irving can't lead the Celtics to wins in Boston's remaining home games against LeBron and company, he'll still have to be considered second fiddle to his former teammate.
Last year, even as the Celtics earned the No. 1 seed, they couldn't beat the Cavs, so no one really gave them much of a chance in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Irving provides hope, but he'll also have to provide results moving forward, or it could be another year without a Finals trip for Boston.
Get more teammates involved
Through five games, Irving is averaging 6.2 assists per game -- a number that, if it holds up, would be a new career high.
However, with the chance to have the ball in his hands more than any year other than his first two years in the league, Irving needs to keep up his scoring average while also dishing out more assists.
Yes, that task will be much harder without Hayward in the lineup, but Irving still has plenty of teammates worthy of getting the ball -- Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and a host of other Celtics.
If he can keep scoring while also becoming a better teammate, MVP voters will have no choice but to give Irving some consideration.