The Cleveland Cavaliers and their walking, breathing franchise LeBron James, are down 2-0 to the Golden State Warriors going into a pivotal Game 3 in Cleveland that would essentially end the series if it concludes with a Warriors win. There’s already starting to be chatter about who should win Finals MVP on the Warriors if they win that Game 3. The answer is probably going to be Stephen Curry, as he just broke the Finals record for made threes in a game and is averaging 31.0 PPG and 8.5 APG. Everyone has also noticed, however, that LeBron James is doing pretty good basketball things for his team, and that he could probably be the Finals MVP. If Cleveland loses and he won, he’d only be the second person to win Finals MVP on the losing team, being the first since Jerry West did it in the first ever NBA Finals in 1969 when the Lakers lost 4-3 gainst the Celtics. He averaged nearly 38 PPG.
Almost all NBA analysts and experts can conclude that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA let alone in these NBA Finals (the 2-5 spots sadly belong to the Warriors). He dropped 51 PTS/8 REB/8 ASTS in the first game while doing a modest 29 PTS/9 REBS/13 ASTS in Game 2. Steph Curry is definitely playing extremely well, but is he truly more valuable to his team than LeBron is to the Cavs? I think we can all agree…no.
The fact of the matter is that people want their Finals MVPs to be the winner. Even more so, people DON’T want their Finals MVP to be the sulking loser, dropping “I don’t care about this award, I want the other trophy” lines at his locker while surrounded by 50 press members.
It’s hard to deny the stats though.
- LeBron is second among all starters in True Shooting percentage with 65.8%. Klay Thompson is the only starter in front of him with 70.5%. It’s worth noting that LeBron has taken 23 more shots than Thompson. After them: Draymond – 62.8% (13 shots), Durant – 61.7%, Curry – 61.1%
- LeBron is averaging 10.5 assists across the first two games. That’s the most on both teams, with Curry after him with 8.5 and Draymond next with 8.0. This is a very simple stat, but it can’t be stated enough that LeBron is getting these assists from players like George Hill, J.R. Smith, and Jeff Green. Those are the best players he has other than Kevin Love. Do I have to keep stating why that’s amazing?
- He had an “off game” according to most in Game 2. 29 points (50% from the field), 13 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 steals. OFF GAME. He will probably “bounce back” in Game 3, further improving his case for MVP.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time LeBron has been on a severely disadvantaged team in the Finals all while individually performing better than anyone on the floor. This happened only 3 years ago during the first year of this currently four-part Finals series between the Warriors and Cavs.
The Warriors won those 2015 NBA Finals 4-2 and their veteran leader, Andre Iguodala, took home the Finals MVP. He only averaged 16.3 PPG/5.8 RPG/4.0 APG, as he was mostly awarded the trophy for playing defense on LeBron the whole series. You’re probably thinking that LeBron must not have had good numbers for them to award Iggy the trophy for his defense on LeBron. You’re wrong.
LeBron averaged 35.8 PPG/13.3 RPG/8.8 APG. Those are monster numbers that Iggy doesn’t even come close to. Also, would you consider those numbers to be that of a guy who was “shutdown” or even “limited” by his defender? Sure, LeBron only shot 39.8% from the field, but was he really not the MVP of the series? This was the series that Kevin Love never played in due to injury and the one where Kyrie Irving was hurt during Game 1 and was never seen again. The Cavs lost that Game 1, so LeBron went on to carry a starting lineup of himself, Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and fucking Matthew Dellavedova to 2 NBA Finals wins. By the end of the series, I was convinced LeBron could have stole the Finals MVP, and was very surprised when it went to Iggy (Curry probably should have won it if LeBron wasn’t going to get it).
We will have to see how the rest of this series plays out before we revisit this conversation again. If the Warriors sweep the Cavs then I’d say there’s a zero percent chance that LeBron James steals the Finals MVP trophy. But if LeBron averages a near triple-double along with 40-50 points per game OR if he does that along with getting the Cavs 2 or 3 wins, then I’d say he more than deserves the right to be named Finals MVP. And if he somehow comes back down 2-0 after the J.R. Smith game and the stomping in Game 2?
Forget the G.O.A.T. discussions. He’d unequivocally be the best to ever do it.
(Featured Photo – Ezra Shaw – Getty Images)