It’s Year VI of the King on our current NBA Tuesday miniseries, and during this season, LeBron James won an NBA title with a second team, in itself an uncommon feat. The fact he did it (with some help, as noted below) against the team that set the all-time, single-season wins record is even more impressive. That doesn’t mean we think this was on the level; for after all, this is professional basketball in (North) America we’re talking about here, but it is what is … enjoy the read!
2016 NBA FINALS MVP: LeBron James, SF, Cleveland (original, confirmed)
The Cleveland Cavaliers won their only NBA title with a 7-game victory over the defending champion Golden State Warriors, in a rematch of the prior season’s Finals. James was named the MVP for his 29.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 8.9 apg, 2.6 spg, 2.3 bpg effort—in a series-best 41.7 mpg. That’s a pretty nuts stat line, in truth, and the Cavs needed every piece of it as they overcame a 3-1 deficit to win the last three games by an average of 11 points per contest. James also notched a triple double in Game 7.
His teammate, point guard Kyrie Irving, may have hit the biggest shot—like the one Ray Allen hit for the Miami Heat in 2013—but the King is the top dog for a reason. James topped his team in all six of those statistical categories above, so we readily confirm his MVP hardware here, even if “Uncle Drew” put the final nail in the Warriors’ coffin. This is James’ third Finals MVP nod, overall.
2016 NBA DPOY: Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio (original); Andre Drummond, C, Detroit (revised)
For the second season in a row, San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard won the DPOY vote, and this year, he actually could win it from us, too, thanks to worthy DWS mark (5.49). The other candidates in our analysis are Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap (6.04), Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (5.47), Detroit Pistons C Andre Drummond (5.45), Miami C Hassan Whiteside (5.28), and Warriors PF Draymond Green (5.14).
Jordan has won our last two trophies, so can he win a third? Let’s see. Here are the playoff margins: Golden State (33), San Antonio (27), Los Angeles (13), Atlanta (6), Miami (6), and Detroit (2). So, once again, Leonard doesn’t get to keep his trophy, and Jordan will not get a hat trick. Our hardware goes to Drummond, as the Pistons outscored their opponents by just 0.6 ppg on their was to a 44-38 record which barely got them into the postseason. Somehow, Drummond finished just tenth in the voting process!
The Big Penguin’s stat line is as follows: 9.9 drpg, 1.5 spg, and 1.4 bpg. He led the NBA in overall rebounding (14.8), while playing a then career high 32.9 mpg. That defensive presence helped keep the Pistons above water, scoring margin wise, and it got them to the playoffs. Just 22 years old, he earned this trophy.