Our second NBA Tuesday miniseries enters the Era of the King this week, where LeBron James played in an incredible 8 straight NBA Finals. Think about that for a second; not since the Boston Celtics dynasty of the 1950s-1960s had a player achieved such a feat, and in the modern period of professional basketball, it’s absolutely stunning to think a player could be that good. Sure, James and his teammates only won 3 of those Finals series, but still … we’re in awe, and it begins today, right here.
2011 NBA FINALS MVP: Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas (original, confirmed)
James and his Miami Heat teammates fell in six games to the Dallas Mavericks, in a little bit of revenge for the 2006 Finals. Miami took a 2-1 series lead before the Mavs ripped off three straight wins by an average of 7-plus points per game. Dallas power forward Dirk Nowitzki was named the MVP for the following stats: 26.0 ppg, 9.7 rpg, and 2.0 apg in 40.3 mpg. He was the only Mavericks player to top 40 mpg in the Finals, so this appears to be well deserving.
And it is, with only two other Dallas guys even topping double figures in scoring (shooting guard Jason Terry at 18.0 ppg and small forward Shawn Marion at 13.7 ppg). Marion won our DPOY nod a long time ago, but at age 32, he was a shadow of his former self in this series. Overall, between minutes played, scoring, and rebounding, no one could come close to Nowitzki here, so we confirm his award win, readily.
2011 NBA DPOY: Dwight Howard, C, Orlando (original, confirmed)
We have six candidates for this award, with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (7.68 DWS) winning the vote at the time. He was followed by Boston PF Kevin Garnett (5.57), James (5.28), Chicago Bulls SF Luol Deng (5.24), Milwaukee Bucks C Andrew Bogut (5.13), and Celtics SF Paul Pierce (5.11). The two Boston players cancel each other out, and the Bucks missed the postseason, so it’s down to Howard, James, and Deng.
Here are the postseason margins for error: Chicago (27), Miami (23), and Orlando (17). So, we confirm Howard’s vote win, and this is his second win from us (2007). His stats at age 25 are impressive: 10.1 defensive boards per game, in addition to 2.4 bpg and 1.4 spg. Oddly, he didn’t lead the league in any categories this season, but in allowing just 93.7 ppg, the Magic had the fourth-stingiest defense in the NBA, thanks to Howard’s dominance inside.
This is the first time since 1995 we have confirmed the DPOY winner, incidentally. This is something we will have to consider going forward, for perhaps we are off here in our analyses.