Writer: Jameson White
For the last three decades, there has been some incredible talent roaming the NBA. Of the incredible talent, the best have won rings and an even smaller percentage of them have won Finals MVP. I will be starting a series of articles each week, ranking the ten Finals MVPs for each decade. Here is the third, and final, of those with the MVPs of the 2010’s:
The Top Finals MVP performances of the 10’s, ranked from 10 to 1:
8. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors, 2015
In the 2015 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games to win their first NBA Championship since 1975. Andre Iguodala was the NBA Finals MVP but not without controversy; he was the worst NBA Finals MVP in the last 30 years. He mostly won the award due to how “well” he guarded four-time league MVP Lebron James. Lebron was “held” to 35.8 PPG, 13.3 RPG, and 8.8 APG on 39.8% shooting. Iguodala, however, averaged 16.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.3 SPG while shooting 52% from the field and a dreadful 35.7% from the free throw line in 37 MPG. To Iguodala’s credit, while guarding James, he caused the Cavaliers small forward to shoot 33% from the field.
7. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs, 2014
Credit to sportskeeda.com
In one of the most lopsided NBA Finals in NBA history, the San Antonio Spurs took on the Miami Heat, and defeated them in five games. In the four games San Antonio won, they outscored the Heat by a combined 72 points. In the one game they lost, they were defeated by only 2 points. Beyond the seemingly sub-par stats, the Finals MVP was Kawhi Leonard, in a breakout series for him. While already known as a lockdown defender, he showed improved offensive scoring ability by scoring more than 20 points in the final three games of the series. He became the third youngest Finals MVP in history with a stat line of 17.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.0 BPG while shooting 61% from the field in 33.4 MPG. Much like Iguodala, Leonard won the award for his guarding of Lebron James.
6. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks, 2011
Credit to SB Nation
In 2011, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in six games to win their first NBA title in franchise history. In the series victory, Dirk Nowitzki won Finals MVP, as the Mavericks gave the Heat, equipped with their new super-team in Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, their first finals loss as a trio. In Game 1, Nowitzki tore a ligament in his finger, yet still won Finals MVP with a series average of 26.0 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 0.7 BPG in 40.3 MPG while shooting 41.6% from the field.
5. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, 2010
Credit to NBA.com
In a rematch of the 2008 Finals, the 2010 NBA Finals featured the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Boston Celtics in an exciting seven-game series in which the Lakers came out on top. After losing to the Celtics in the Finals in 2008, the Lakers redeemed the defeat in this series. Although he shot 40% from the field, Kobe Bryant won Finals MVP in the last title victory of his career. He averaged 28.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.1 SPG, and 0.7 BPG in 41.1 MPG.
4. Lebron James, Miami Heat, 2013
Credit to Pinterest
In 2013, the Miami Heat took on the San Antonio Spurs, winning in seven games. It was a back and forth series, as the two teams took turns winning games 1 through 5, with the Heat taking games 6 and 7. In the final 30 seconds of Game 6, San Antonio had appeared to have locked up the fifth NBA Championship in the franchise’s history. However, with 6 seconds left, Ray Allen hit one of the most iconic shots in NBA history to send the game into overtime, in which Miami won. The Heat also won game 7 by 7 points, as Lebron James scored 37 points and collected 12 rebounds. James won Finals MVP for this series, averaging 25.3 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.9 BPG on 44.7% shooting from the field in 43 MPG.
3. Lebron James, Miami Heat, 2012
Credit to BleacherReport
In the 2012 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite the young trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, the Heat’s own big three of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were too much to contain, winning in five games. The Finals victory marked the first of Lebron James’ career, as he had been defeated in his two prior trips to the championship series. James posted a triple-double in the series-clinching game 5 win, along with winning Finals MVP. For the series, James averaged 28.6 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, and 0.4 BPG on 47.2% shooting from the field in 44 MPG.
2. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors, 2017
Credit to NBA.com
In the 2017 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors took on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before the season started, it was assumed nationwide that the Warriors would be the NBA Champions, as they signed former Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, giving them two of the top-five players in the league and four of the top-twenty players. As a team, they ran their way through the Western Conference playoffs, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, and San Antonio Spurs. In the NBA Finals, they defeated the Cavaliers in five games. Kevin Durant won Finals MVP, as he posted a stat line of 35.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.6 BPG while shooting 55.6% from the field. With Durant claiming the first title of his career in such dominating fashion, it was claimed by many that “King James” had finally been dethroned.
1. Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2016
Credit to The New York Times
Finally, the best NBA Finals performance of the 2010’s. In the 2016 Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Golden State Warriors, who had amassed the greatest regular season record in league history by going 73-9. In this series, the Warriors won the first two games by a combined 48 points. While Cleveland won Game 3, Golden State won Game 4, giving them a 3-1 series lead. In Game 5, Golden State’s power forward Draymond Green was ejected for a flagrant kick, also resulting in a Game 6 suspension. Lebron James and the Cavaliers took advantage of this suspension and won games 5 and 6, sending it to a game 7. Game 7 of the Finals featured twenty different lead changes, with the closing minutes featuring Lebron’s chase-down block, known as “The Block,” on Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, and Kyrie Irving’s game clinching fadeaway 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining to clinch the game. With the win, the Cavaliers became the first team in Finals history to win the series after falling down 3-1. Lebron James posted 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in game 7, becoming the third player in NBA history to post a triple-double in a game 7. James won Finals MVP with a line of 29.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 8.9 APG, 2.6 SPG, and 2.3 BPG, while shooting 49% from the field in 41.7 MPG.