NBA Finals 2017: MVP Candidates
After what has seemed like an eternity, the NBA Finals are just 24 hours away as we finally get to see the matchup we have been waiting for all year. The Golden State Warriors will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers for the championship. In a matchup that features three different MVP’s, seven different all stars, and the best player in the NBA, this series may save the season as it’s been dismal at best. But with so many great players and a series that can go either way, who are the players most likely to win Finals MVP? Let’s take a look.
LeBron James is probably the only player on this list that has a chance to win NBA Finals MVP whether his team wins or loses. He’s that good, and somehow, at 32 years of age, is playing better than he has for the last five years. LeBron is averaging 32.5 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists per game in these playoffs heading into Game 1. My goodness! With a title on the line, you can expect his performance to elevate even higher. which would be absurd, but with James you never know. LeBron James is my leading candidate for Finals MVP.
Kevin Durant, the man that most people have picked to win Finals MVP. Durant is under the most pressure in this series due to the fact that he left the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors A team that won 73 games last season and was one game away from winning the NBA Finals. Many people believed that Durant rode the bandwagon, so these Finals will be huge for him as he can erase some of that criticism by being the best player on the court. Durant is currently averaging 25.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game heading into the Finals. Now, he may have to surpass those numbers to win Finals MVP, but this is the biggest stage and you can expect, hopefully, a huge performance from him. Durant definitely has the most to prove and out of everyone on this list, he needs it the most, but he’s not the only one that needs it.
Another player that needs the Finals MVP award to cement his legacy is Stephen Curry. Curry played decent in the 2015 Finals and played horrible, particularly in Game 7, in the 2016 Finals. Curry needs to play better not only for him, but for the Warriors to win the title. Make no mistake about it, Curry is the engine that propels the Warriors and if he is not himself, they will lose. Stephen Curry is averaging 28.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game on 50/40/90. If he does anything dramatically different from those numbers, his legacy will be hindered. Now with the Warriors being the favorites and Curry leading the team in stats, Curry is the prohibitive favorite to win the MVP award and he certainly needs it.
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
A man in his own category, Kyrie Irving is in the close, but no cigar category. Irving is great enough to be in the conversation with the other MVP candidates, but on a team with LeBron James, it’s hard to get that award away from him. Irving has been struggling in the playoffs before his great play in the latter part of the Boston Celtics series and it’s questionable as to whether he will continue playing like that Irving or the Irving that played against the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors. Irving has a chance to steal the show, but he will fall short of the Finals MVP conversation.
If the Warriors were to win the 2016 NBA Finals, Draymond Green would’ve won Finals MVP as he had an incredible impact on that series and a great Game 7. With the addition of Kevin Durant, it’s far less likely that he could win the award, but with Draymond he always finds a way to stand out. He may not win it, but he will be huge if the Warriors do win.
To a much lesser degree, you can have a situation where a role player or all-star that was not talked about sneak in to win the award, such as Andre Iguodala in 2015. Now it may not happen this time around with the stacked talent in this series, but players like Tristan Thompson and Klay Thompson are guys that viewers should keep an eye on. Thompson will have a huge impact rebounding wise and Klay shooting will always be a factor, regardless of his current slump.
These seven players mentioned are all important to their teams and contribute one way or another, but the MVP award for these Finals will belong to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, or LeBron James. I will make the bold prediction that Stephen Curry will leave June as a champion and Finals MVP.