Before Ricky Rubio went down with a season ending knee injury in Minnesota, the Spanish point guard was in a close race with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving for who would take home NBA Rookie of the Year honors this season.
Rubio tearing his ACL in early March changed that debate and Irving’s been the front-runner ever since. But is the Cavs’ point guard and former overall No. 1 pick next in line to shut it down for the season on his way to NBA ROY?
Considering the season he is having helping revitalize Cleveland’s franchise, you would hate to see it come to that. Sadly enough, that just might be the reality Irving is facing after spraining his right shoulder last Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sporting a protective elastic brace on his shoulder, Irving hasn’t participated in contact drills, and he sat out on Saturday against the New York Knicks. The Cavs say he’ll give it a try against the San Antonio Spurs tonight, but if Irving isn’t careful, even hoisting the ROY hardware over his head may be a tough feat let alone finishing out the remainder of his impressive rookie season with the Cavs.
At least there is some good news for Irving to be proud of.
On Monday, he was once again named Eastern Conference’s rookie of the month for March after averaging 19.9 points, 6.7 assists and 5.0 assists in 15 games during March. The month also featured Irving notching his first career double-double against the Atlanta Hawks — 19 points and 10 assists in 37 minutes — as he cruised to his third straight Eastern Conference rookie of the month award.
Unfortunately April isn’t starting out so hot.
Irving and head coach Byron Scott will meet prior to the game against the Spurs to discuss his health, but ultimately it comes down to Irving’s choice and knowing his body the best.
“He’s been very honest with me on how he feels and I think that communication that we have will continue,” Scott said Monday.
“When I was hurt I was hurt. There’s a difference between being hurt and being injured. I could play with pain and I know he can, too. But just chose not to have him play the last game with pain.”
Cleveland can’t take much more pain.
On Monday, Daniel Gibson underwent surgery this to repair a torn tendon in his left foot and ankle. The Cavs have also lost seven in a row and face San Antonio who are riding a seven-game win-streak.
If Irving’s shoulder sprain doesn’t get the better of him, the Cavs’ constant woes in closing out this season just might.
Still, you have to hand it to Irving. Regardless if he shuts it down or not, his first year in the league says a lot about what type of player he is. Not only is he putting up outstanding numbers month in and month out, but to do it during a lockout shortened season where back-to-back-to back games are the norm is equally impressive.
Winning the NBA ROY honor would be well deserved.