Jerry West was named the NBA Finals first most valuable player in 1969. He averaged 30.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 7.5 assists in 18 playoff games. His 265 points were 67 more than John Havlicek and 134 more than Sam Jones, who ranked second and third in that series, respectively, so it was clear that West was a huge factor in the Finals. But his team still lost to the Boston Celtics, making him the only Finals MVP to come from the losing team.
That streak could end this year, where win or lose, LeBron James should be named MVP of the NBA Finals.
The self-proclaimed “best player in the world” is averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists. And without Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao, James is being used on 39.8 percent of the Cavs’ possessions. In Game 5 he produced 40 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out 11 assists for his second triple-double of the series. Only one other player has done that: West in 1969.
40 points in a triple-double– NBA Finals History Jerry West, 1969 Lakers LeBron James 2015 Cavaliers
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 15, 2015
James was responsible for 70 of the Cavs’ 91 points in Game 5 via his scoring and assists, a level of performance not seen since two of the game’s all-time greats were on the hardwood: West and Walt Frazier.
— ESPN (@espn) June 15, 2015
Through five games, James has the eighth highest average game score — John Hollinger’s formula designed to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game — since 1985.
During the 2015 NBA Finals, it is the highest game score by far (minimum 100 minutes played), and that includes a better performance than regular season MVP Stephen Curry.
Looked at another way, the drop off from James to the Cavs’ second-best player and beyond is much steeper than the drop for the Warriors from Curry to the rest of their squad.
“LeBron has been tremendous — [that is] even an understatement for how he’s played in the series,” Cavs Coach David Blatt said. “Under the current set of circumstances, that’s what we’ve got to get, and he’s bringing it. You don’t see that every day, what he’s doing.”
Forget every day — we haven’t seen it for 46 years, and it is a feat worth recognizing as the most valuable in the series. No matter which team wins the title.