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Three Stars: Career highs for three guys

Nov 14, 2012, 12:52 AM EST

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

The soulless pursuit of stats by players on bad teams (or as I like to call it, the Corey Maggette special) can often be pretty brutal to watch. No one likes watching a guy play isolation basketball the whole game, hogging possessions and looking off teammates. Three Stars doesn’t reward that type of behavior, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate some great individual play — even in a losing effort.

Tonight, we have two career bests by players with a combined NBA experience of 15 years, but our First Star is just getting started. Yes, Kobe Bryant, we’re very impressed with what you did to the Spurs tonight, but you’ve clearly made the mistake of setting your career-high bar (81 points!) much, much too high. Here are Tuesday’s Three Stars of the Night:

Third Star: Jose Calderon – 13 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists

Jose…Jose, Jose, Jose! Filling in place of the injured Kyle Lowry, Jose Calderon put up his first career triple-double in 487 NBA games, and set a new career-high for rebounds with 10 all at the same time. I know what you’re thinking — how the heck does Jose Calderon get 10 rebounds? Well, with Andrea Bargnani on the floor, anything is possible. Bargnani pulled down just two rebounds in 30 minutes of floor time, but give Calderon some credit for sticking his nose in there and capitalizing off an Indiana Pacers team that loves shooting long jumpers. There’s a pretty good chance we’ll never see this happen again, so let’s give Calderon his due in a big win over the Pacers after a triple-overtime battle last night.

Second Star: Anderson Varejao – 35 points, 18 rebounds, 16-for-21 shooting

The league’s premier garbage man did it bigger than ever before, hanging around the rim for a career-high in points with 35. While we know Varejao is plenty capable of those duties, his evolution as a pick-and-roll big man has been incredible to see. Varejao has always been one of the league’s best screeners, but now he’s timing his rolls better, creating angles for his guards and finding the open space on the floor rather than plowing into traffic. It might sound silly, but the Irving/Varejao pick-and-roll combo may finish as the league’s best this year, even though they’re surrounded by no other consistent contributors. Seriously, Cleveland. Six bench points tonight? It’s time to get Andy, one of the hardest working players in the league, some more help.

First Star: Kyrie Irving – 34 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 9-19 shooting

Kyrie went all “Uncle Drew” tonight, toying with one of the league’s best point guards in Deron Williams. Although Williams would win the war, Kyrie won nearly every battle, maneuvering to the hole with ease and getting to the free-throw line (14-for-14) whenever he wanted to. If you had to start a franchise today, and every player is on their current salary, wouldn’t Kyrie Irving be a smart choice? Although he neglects one side of the floor completely, Irving is one of the most dynamic offensive forces in the league. There’s nothing he can’t do with the ball in his hands, and as a natural point guard, he’ll have the ball plenty. Don’t be surprised if his new career-high of 34 points is broken this year, or even this month. It’s rare for this to happen, but Irving is even better than advertised.

  1. pl4tinum514 - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    These guys are both absolutely playing All-Star caliber ball right now. They are a pleasure to watch. I hope they are rewarded for their play with spots on the AS team.

  2. slowclyde86 - Nov 14, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Now would be a good time to trade Varejao.

    • ljl2 - Nov 14, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      It would be, except the Cavs wouldn’t get close to equal value. He is on a team friendly contract and producing in a way that will be almost impossible to replicate in the way this team needs it to be. There’s almost a guarantee any draft pick would not replace his role and no player that comes back will be close to it either.

      So like I said, it would be…but they won’t get value in return to make it worthwhile. Don’t mess up the one good thing you have going in a team concept. They need bench players, look at the starting 5’s efficiency and +/- compared to the league. Trading Varejao doesn’t fix their weaknesses but instead creates more.

  3. allmyteamsareterrible - Nov 14, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Ahhh it’s so wonderful I have been saying since last year that Kyrie Irving will be a top 3 guard this year and people laughed….

    I wonder how many of you will laugh when the season is over. KI has not one hole in his game.

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