It’s Year V of the King on our current NBA Tuesday miniseries, and yet it’s also Year I of the Splash Brothers, too. Overlapping eras of greatness? Say it ain’t so … for four straight seasons, starting with this one, the NBA managed to give us finals matching up the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. This never even happened with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1960s or the 1980s! So, enjoy the analyses for the next month-plus … yeah, baby.
2015 NBA FINALS MVP: Andre Iguodala, SF, Golden State (original); Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State (revised)
The Warriors won their first NBA title since 1975 with a six-game triumph over the Cavs, and Golden State small forward Andre Iguodala (16.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.0 apg) won the MVP nod at the time—which is puzzling to us, looking back at this more than seven years later. Cleveland actually took a 2-1 lead on the Warriors before losing three straight by an average of 14 points per game. Iguodala got a lot of credit for holding Cavs SF LeBron James to under 40-percent shooting, but that’s a topical observation.
James still averaged 35.8 ppg, 13.3 rpg, and 8.8 apg in this series, and the reality is that the Warriors won mostly because Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving missed 5 games in the Finals. Without Irving, the Cavs had to rely more on James, which was a lot of the reason his shot selection was poor, leading to the 39.8-percent conversion rate. Also, Golden State just had broader talent range in this matchup, as four Warriors players averaged at least 37.0 mpg to smother Cleveland without Irving in the games.
Thus, we’re re-assigning this MVP trophy to Warriors PG Stephen Curry (26.0 ppg, 6.3 apg, 5.2 rpg, 1.8 spg), who played 5.5 mpg more than Iguodala did and outperformed him, too, in almost every important way. Curry always has been the catalyst for the modern-day Golden State success, and it’s appropriate to see the statistics for what they are in this sense—and in these Finals.
2015 NBA DPOY: Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio (original); DeAndre Jordan, C, Los Angeles Clippers (revised)
San Antonio Spurs SF Kawhi Leonard (4.41 DWS) won the DPOY vote, but he won’t be winning our hardware. This was another odd season, where only two players met our DPOY DWS threshold (5.0): Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (5.39) and Golden State power forward Draymond Green (5.17). Jordan won our trophy last year, so can he make it two in a row? It all comes down to playoff margins of error, as usual, and with the Warriors winning 11 more times than the Clippers, it’s Jordan again.
He finished third in the voting with the following stats: 10.1 defensive rpg, 2.2 bpg, and 1.0 spg. He also topped the league in total rebounding (15.0 rpg) while leading the NBA in several shooting categories, too—overall FG percentage (.710), two-point shooting percentage (.713), and effective FG percentage (.711). The Clippers were the second-best team in the Western Conference, and even though they made the postseason by an 11-win margin, Jordan was the dominant man in the middle.