Who Should Have Won the NBA Finals' MVP?
Even before Andre Iguodala was awarded Finals MVP, media and the Twitter-verse were trying to make the case for who was rightfully the MVP of the 2015 NBA Finals. In fact, personally, the whole dilemma kept me up to see what strange or convoluted reasons people were coming up with.
Was that really worth my time? Maybe, I don't know. One thing I did learn is that there's a huge divide between those who believe LeBron James should've been given the MVP over Iguodala, and those who felt Iggy was more deserving of the award.
Those who take the pro-LeBron stance point to his historic numbers, the way he made his replaceable teammates relevant, and the fact that he put his team on his back, without two of its superstars, in order win a pair of games in this challenging series.
Those who take the other side of the argument, in support of Iguodala, point to the change in momentum after he was inserted into the starting lineup, his amazingly efficient numbers and how he impacted LeBron's game on the defensive end.
When you consider both sides of the debate, from an unbiased perspective, both are very valid arguments.
But who's right?
The Best Player
of the Series in the World
First of all, anyone who thinks LeBron James isn't the best player in the world after these playoffs -- particularly this series -- has some serious hate problems.
In 20 playoff games -- 16 of which were without Kevin Love and 7 without Kyrie Irving -- LeBron nearly averaged a triple-double, amassing 30.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.5 assists per contest while playing 42.2 minutes a night.
And then, in the Finals, while posting a Usage Percentage of 40.8% (which is 3% higher than the 37.8% between both Iguodala and fellow forward Draymond Green), LeBron poured in 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game in 45.7 minutes. (Just typing that sentence was exhausting...) In doing so, when on the floor, James grabbed 27.7% of the Cavs' available defensive rebounds, 15.7% of their total rebounds and assisted on 52.7% of his teammates' field goals. The next closest assist percentage on the team? Kyrie Irving's 27.2% that he tallied in his lone Finals game.
As for LeBron's Net Rating of 0, what can you say? The guy played just about every minute of every game, the outcome of the game likely dictated his rating on the court. If you ask me, zero's pretty freaking good when you consider his team lost the series, being outscored by a margin of 42 points over the last three games.
Stephen Curry may have won the regular season MVP, and he may be the best shooter we've ever seen, but James was the best player on the court at all times, no questions asked. He did something at least this generation has never seen before by taking a team with so much adversity to such great heights.
The Biggest Impact on the Winning Team
Curry won the NBA regular season MVP, and he's hands-down the best player on the Golden State Warriors' roster, finishing the year with the highest nERD rating in the NBA. So we know that Andre Iguodala didn't win the MVP by being the best player on the winning team. However, Iguodala was the most impactful player in the 2015 NBA Finals.
Starting the series, Iguodala came off the bench in favor of starting a big, Andrew Bogut, who didn't make much of an impact. And Iguodala was the opposite of Bogut. Coming off the bench, Iggy tallied 37 points on 14 of 25 shooting and 5 of 13 from three while dishing out 12 assists and posting a plus/minus of +15 in the first three games of the series.
In Game 4, Steve Kerr went to his small starting lineup with Iguodala at the 3/4 spot. Over the next three games, Iguodala averaged 20.3 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per contest while shooting a combined 22 of 46 (47.8% from the floor) and 9 of 22 from three (40.9%). He was also a +44 in those three games.
Iguodala ended the series with the highest Offensive Rating of any Warrior starter and a Defensive Rating of 100 while being asked to guard the best player in the world -- which he did really well. LeBron may have put up points, but Iguodala's defense kept him from continually penetrating with a full head of steam and getting others open looks rather than the contested ones they got. Just how good Iggy's defense was can't be quantified by numbers alone considering who he was guarding.
While he did work on both ends, Iguodala's Net Rating of 17 was the best of any player in the Finals not named David Lee (does he count?), while posting the highest effective field goal percentage of all players with at least 30 minutes played.
And Iguodala's team won the NBA Championship, and will now have a banner hoisted in the rafters of their arena. So there's that.
Is There a Right Answer?
Both sides are right. Depending on what you look at for MVP (particularly Finals MVP), both LeBron and Iggy were deserving of the award. Each had the NBA Finals of their career in different ways, and each have their own stats and arguments to back them up.
So, for the love of Mr. Naismith, could someone please define MVP for me?