The fact that I keep hearing “Kevin Durant is a two time NBA Finals MVP,” makes me want to throw up. It gives me headaches to know that some people think he actually deserved that award. It’s nonsense. I know it’s been about a month since the 2018 season officially ended but I will not just sit here and let him be praised for an accomplishment that he didn’t actually deserve. I’ve honestly been questioning if the 11 media members who voted to crown him the Finals MVP actually even watched the whole series.
Let’s get one thing laid out right now…. the stat lines for the top 3 Finals MVP candidates:
LeBron – 34.0 PPG, 8.5 RBSPG, 10.0 ASTPG, 52.7 FG%
Kevin – 28.8 PPG, 10.8 RBSPG, 7.5 ASTPG, 52.6 FG%
Steph – 27.5 PPG, 6.0 RBSPG, 6.8 ASTPG, 40.2 FG%
When you look at those stat lines, what do you see? Do you see an obvious MVP choice? Yes, so do I. You can go by the numbers or you can go by the eye test. Either way, there’s one thing that’s for sure… LeBron’s teammates looked like they had more business playing at a local YMCA than being in the NBA finals. The Cavs players not named LeBron shot a combined 37% from the field and LeBron still averaged 10 assists per game. Not to mention, LBJ had to play 45 minutes a game. Right now you might be saying, “yeah, but his team didn’t win it all so there’s no way he could get the Finals MVP.” And to that I say, why not? It’s not written anywhere. The only thing stopping that from happening are the media members that choose the MVP. I don’t understand it. The NBA might as well make it a written rule since the only time a player on the losing Finals team has ever won Finals MVP was in 1969 (Jerry West). Anyway, I digress.
Since everyone is so set on not giving the obvious MVP the award, regardless of if they lost or not, let’s move onto the fact that Kevin Durant wasn’t even the MVP on his own team. “But.. but.. what? How can you say that, look at the stat lines you put up… Durant clearly had a better Finals than Steph!!” And that would be where you are incorrect.
Let me break it down real quick.
When looking at series and who the best player was for a given team, you have to take a look at it game by game. In this case we are taking a look at two players on the Warriors, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Now’s when it gets interesting. You can look at the averages for the two players from the stat lines above and tell me that there is a clear cut winner. However, what’s the one thing we can all remember from our middle school math classes? It’s that averages can sometimes contain an outlier and that outlier can skew all of the statistics in the wrong direction, especially when talking about just 4 games. I promise you this is not a math lesson, I’m just adding some context. Game 3 of the series was the outlier for both Steph and Kevin. For Steph, it was a detriment but for Durant, it was a boost.
Brief breakdown of each Game in the 2018 NBA Finals comparing Steph’s and Kevin’s performances in that specific game:
- Steph scored 29 points on 47.8% shooting and added 9 assists. He also went 3-8 in the 4th quarter to help push the game to OT
- Durant scored 26 points on just 36.4% shooting and had 7 assists. He didn’t score in the 4th quarter or overtime on 0-4 from the field. Yikes.
- Steph was the Warrior’s best player in game 1. That’s pretty obvious.
- Steph scored 33 points on 43% shooting and had 8 assists. He shot over 50% from three going 9-17. He sealed the game with 5 threes made in the 4th quarter.
- Durant scored 26 again on 71% shooting and had 7 assists. He connected on 2 of 3 threes in the game and had 4 points in the 4th on 2-3 shooting.
- Steph was the Warriors best player in this game as well. Kevin was more efficient but most of his shots came from from inside the 3 point line and he didn’t make as much of an impact in the second half.
Game 3: The Outlier
- Steph scored 11 points on 18.8% shooting and had 6 assists. He shot terribly, simple as that.
- Durant scored 43 points on 65% shooting and had 7 assists. He had a career game scoring and was very efficient.
- This game was the game that evened out both players statistics for the series. It made it seem like they’ve both made similar contributions in the first 3 games which is false. This game lowered Steph’s averages for his shooting % and points and did the opposite for Durant’s averages even though Steph carried the load for the Warriors in games 1 and 2.
Game 4: The Decider
- Steph scored 37 points on 44.4% shooting and had 4 assists. He was very efficient from beyond the arc and the made the game one-sided from the jump.
- Durant scored 20 points on 41.2% shooting and had 10 assists. Most of his points came in the 1st quarter going 4-8.
- Steph ran this game from beginning to end, making it 3 out of the 4 Finals games that Steph was the best and most valuable player for the Warriors.
The Finals total stat lines do not tell the whole story and calling KD the finals MVP is just disingenuous. Durant should not have been crowned MVP of the Finals. He shouldn’t have been runner up, either. There was the clear cut MVP on the losing team and by default, it had to go to a player on the wining team. And they chose the wrong guy on that team. Durant received the award because of the aura around his name, not because was the actual MVP.
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