It’s not that bold of a statement when you put the names of four players on the shortlist for Finals MVP: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson. However, we’re not going to see Andre Iguodala or Draymond Green win the award, unless something really stunning happens in the final game or two.
The last two seasons have brought us surprising Finals MVPs. Iguodala was quite the surprising Finals MVP in 2015, averaging 11 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists. His defense was impressive enough for those making the choice to select him, even if he had a -11 +/- in the closeout game. The disappointment from Stephen Curry, who was just OK in the series (26 points in the Finals series), was so great, they had to give it to someone who represented something different.
In 2014, Kawhi Leonard was the stunning choice for Finals MVP, as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat 4-1 in the finals. Leonard didn’t put up the numbers we’re used to seeing from fMVPs, although he made a bigger statistical make than Iguodala, averaging 17.8 points while making life very difficult for LeBron James, and scoring 71 points in the final three games. Iguodala never scored more than 15 points in the 2015 series.
It’s going to be different this year. While both Green and Iguodala have had their moments, the stars aren’t going to be ignored. On the Cavs side, you couldn’t go with anyone else even if you looked really hard. James and Irving are almost the entire Cavaliers offense. While spreading the ball around is the ideal around the league (at least that’s what coaches like to say), the Cavaliers are usually better off when everything is working towards LeBron and Irving getting their points, like in game 5, with the two combining for 82 points.
So, who are the numbers looking so far?
- James is averaging 28 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 2.4 steals and 2 blocks per game. It’s not just on his team: No one is accumulating numbers as much as he is, for better or worse. He has two games of scoring over 30
- Irving is averaging 28.2 points in this series while putting up 30 or more in the last three games. Unlike James, his contribution ends there.
- Curry is averaging 22.2 points in this series (under 20 in each of the first three games), and except for game 4 (38 points) he hasn’t been as dominant and influential as the Warriors want him to be, even in blowout wins
- Thompson was bad in last year’s Finals except for the first two games. This year started badly for him, just like Curry, but he has 62 points over the last three games, and is averaging almost four more points per game (19.6) compared to last year’s finals.
So who wins it? If the Cavaliers somehow pull off this miracle, it’s probably going to be James for a third time, even if Kyrie outscored him. The logic is simple: If the Cavs do turn their 1-3 deficit into an NBA championship, it’ll most likely come attached with some huge all-around games from James, just like his game 5 performance. The question is if he can put another one like that together.
For the Warriors, it’ll probably be the one who leaves the better impression in game 6 or 7, whenever they do clinch the back-to-back titles, if they actually do. Curry is the more likely candidate, but it’s really hard to say for sure, as individually it’s been an up & down series for both him and Thompson.