This is the quasi-final entry in our second NBA Tuesday miniseries! When we get around to it, we will always add new-year entries into both all existing miniseries for professional sports, but this marks the end of an era somewhat here. The Golden State Warriors returned to the champions’ circle for the first time since 2018, after struggling through injuries and Covid for three seasons in the middle. What does that mean for our awards analysis here? Read on and find out … Enjoy!

2022 NBA FINALS MVP: Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State (original, confirmed)

The Warriors overcame a 2-1 deficit in the Finals to the Boston Celtics, winning the last three games in a row by double digits over an exhausted opponent who had gone to 7 games in both its prior postseason series. It’s fair to say that Boston just ran out of gas, while the Warriors benefitted from not having been to the Finals (or even the playoffs, really) in a few years. The six-game victory gave Golden State its fourth NBA title since 2015, and point guard Stephen Curry won the Finals MVP vote.

His numbers—31.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 37.5 mpg—were very good, of course, as Curry topped his team in scoring and steals. Three other GSW players finished in double-digit scoring, and two teammates of his played more minutes. But Curry’s scoring impact cannot be overlooked as his shooting percentages (48.2 overall, 43.7 from downtown, and 85.7 from the line) easily outpaced the team’s overall effort (44.6 overall, 36.7 from downtown, 80.7 from the line). We confirm it, his second from us.

It’s hard to believe this was Curry’s first—and probably only—Finals MVP nod, officially. The voters made an error in 2015, of course, and Curry willingly took second seat to a teammate in order to win in 2017 and 2018, costing him more hardware, perhaps. These tidbits should not diminish his place among the all-time NBA greats, however. Yet to compare Curry to Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson is also pretty asinine. Go figure.

2022 NBA DPOY: Marcus Smart, PG, Boston (original); Jayson Tatum, SF, Boston (revised)

We face a true dilemma for the first time in our miniseries exploration of this award, as no player in the league met our 5.0 DWS threshold for a full season of play. The vote winner, Boston point guard Marcus Smart (3.7), wasn’t even close to out threshold, either. In this unique case, we will default to the top DWS producer that also played for a postseason qualifier: Boston small forward Jayson Tatum (4.61). Interesting to note the recent trends in declining defense across the league, overall, by the way.

Tatum’s numbers seem pedestrian, as a result: 6.9 defensive rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game. These efforts helped feed 4.4 assists and 26.9 points per game, overall. The Celtics gave up the fewest points per game in the whole NBA (104.5). Without Tatum, and to a lesser extent Smart as well, there is no way Boston makes such a deep run in the playoffs and almost wins another championship banner for the rafters.