Stage is Set for Stephen Curry’s First NBA Finals MVP

Stephen Curry has done some impressive things in his career.

He’s won three rings, two regular-season MVPs, the first-ever unanimous MVP and essentially changed the game of basketball with his uncanny ability to put the ball in the hoop from practically anywhere on the court.

One thing he has never done? Win Finals MVP—something he now has the chance to rectify.

His failure to bring home the coveted hardware leads to a lot of shallow takes about how he “chokes” in the NBA Finals, which is not the least bit true.

Most Points Since Finals MVP
Rk Player From To Pos G MP TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
1 LeBron James 2007 2018 F-G 49 2101 490 379 86 43 196 1383
2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1971 1989 C 56 2082 507 181 45 116 121 1317
3 Michael Jordan 1991 1998 G-F 35 1506 211 209 62 23 99 1176
4 Magic Johnson 1980 1991 G-F 50 2044 397 584 102 16 190 971
5 Kobe Bryant 2000 2010 G-F 37 1581 211 187 65 33 123 937
6 Shaquille O’Neal 1995 2006 C 30 1268 393 103 16 62 101 865
7 James Worthy 1984 1991 F 34 1346 171 112 34 20 68 754
8 Larry Bird 1981 1987 F 31 1326 361 187 63 24 91 716
9 Tim Duncan 1999 2014 F-C 34 1346 452 94 27 81 96 708
10 Dwyane Wade 2006 2014 G 29 1125 166 125 53 30 85 693
11 Dennis Johnson 1978 1987 G 37 1483 175 228 48 39 100 676
12 Scottie Pippen 1991 1998 F-G 35 1470 292 207 67 39 117 664
13 Stephen Curry 2015 2019 G 25 976 145 154 40 9 95 662
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table generated 6/6/2019.

 

Based on data from Basketball-Reference, among players with at least 20 Finals games, Curry is fifth in points per 36 minutes (24.4). Only Michael Jordan (28.1), Jerry West (25.4), Bob Petit (24.6) and Shaquille O’Neal (24.6) are ahead of him. LeBron James (23.7) resides one spot below him.

Furthermore, with 662 points scored during the Finals in his career, Curry is 13th since the league started handing out the Finals MVP. Of the 12 players ahead of him, only Scottie Pippen (with two more points) has never won a Finals MVP.

With Durant out this year, however, we’ve been reminded how special Curry can be when he’s the focus of an offense. He’s averaging 35.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.1 assists with a 65.1 true shooting percentage through the eight games Durant has missed.

He is also the Finals’ leading scorer, averaging 34.7 points (on 63.2 percent true shooting) and the first in minutes at 41.4. He’s seventh in rebounds, tied for third in assists and is tied for the lead in steals at 2.0.

Most significantly, the Warriors are 26.3 points per 100 possession better when he’s on the court, according to NBA.com.

With Durant missing the first three games, Kevin Looney the last two, and Klay Thompson the most recent, it’s been on Curry to carry the team single-handedly. Yes, they lost Game 3, but they’re down 1-2, not 0-3, and one win can put them right back into the series.

Curry will need, at a minimum, either Durant or Thompson back to have a chance. With both, the Warriors can absolutely wrestle back control of the series. After all, it’s not the first time this group has been down.

If they do climb back—and especially if it’s with Durant returning and playing big—there may a swell of support for KD to take home his third MVP. Hopefully, voters will take note of the fact that Curry was there for the whole series and that he was the one who got them to the series in the first place.

Even if the Warriors lose without their other superstars in the lineup, and Curry has more performances like Game 3’s 47 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, it might be worth considering giving him the Finals MVP anyway. After all, he has clearly been the best player in this Finals. (Remember, a hobbled-yet-still-elite Kawhi Leonard is both needing and getting a lot of help from his Toronto teammates as well.)

Curry is the most accomplished player in NBA Finals history to not win the award, but he has his shot this year. And he’s not one to miss many of the shots he takes.

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