Just three games away from the crowning of a new Finals MVP, the competition for this 2013 NBA Finals’ most valuable contributor has seen more ebb and flow than a Miami pool party. None of the series’ more accomplished names have been particularly consistent, which makes the matter of choosing a clear front-runner in a race dominated by past work all the trickier. Much trickier than it was picking them after the nail-biting Game 1.
But Sports Jerks isn’t a place to value legacy over current exploits. If we were, we also would have made the mistake of picking Kobe over a snubbed Gasol in the 2010 Finals MVP standings.
With that said, here are our rankings of the MVPs for the 2013 NBA Finals as we see them.
1. Danny Green – Poor Mike Miller. Despite shooting an Olympian 83.3% from the field and 82.0% from sniper territory, he’s playing second fiddle to Danny Green’s shooting prowess. Principally because of a lack of minutes. But beyond being the series’ most consistent player, Green is also shooting for the ages, and is doing it at a much higher clip than Miller (38 field-goal attempts to Miller’s 12).
On top of bothering James, Green is averaging only less points than LeBron and Wade in this seven game-contest. He’s tied at third with LeBron for most blocks in the series. And, yes, he’s making it rain: shooting 19-for-28 from deep and 22-for-38 overall, as per NBA.com’s series stats.
2. LeBron James – Averages of 20.8 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 6.5 APG, and 1.75 STLG are good enough to garner Finals MVP consideration in every one of the past finals series. But LeBron has been far from historic throughout long legs of this match-up. For stretches, the Spurs’ defense has stilled him, and if it weren’t for a big showing in Game 4, he would be averaging under 20 points per showing.
Still, he’s a perennial talent, and even when he’s struggling mightily, the man is yardsticks better than the other guys.
3. Tony Parker – You hate to see such an integral part of this round injured, but that’s the running story line from here on out. Other than Game 1 (which was largely the result of 4th quarter play) and the first half of Game 4, Parker hasn’t been himself, and a hampered hamstring will only make matters worse. He’s still a threat for the Heat, and has helped keep things close for the Spurs in various junctures, but he may continue to drop on this list if his performance doesn’t see an improvement.
4. Kawhi Leonard – No big nights for Leonard so far but he has yet to shrink in front of the big lights. He was a bit sluggish, and soft at attacking the basket, in Game 4, but alongside Duncan, he’s helping control the boards for San Antonio.
His defense on LeBron hasn’t been flawless, not that anyone expected it to be, but it’s been as pristine as it can be against the behemoth wearing No. 6. A few more touches and set plays could also do the youngster some good. Pop?
5. Dwyane Wade – Before Game 4, Wade was in Mario Chalmers territory, performance wise. But Game 4 was a revival of the Wade that put the 2006 Miami Heat on his Jordan-lite shoulders, and who, at one point, could go toe-to-toe with the King.
It’s doubtful Wade will be able to put up another showing of Game 4’s caliber, but for now, Wade has earned his stripes.
6. Chris Bosh – Without a resurgent Wade, spot No.5 would have been guaranteed to Bosh. He has been a quiet model of efficiency on both sides of the floor. Not only is he the leading blocker of the series, but is also it’s 4th-leading rebounder, only trails Dwyane Wade for steals, has as many assists as Mario Chalmers, and is serving as a major pest for Duncan.
His stat line proves he’s currently outplaying Timmy: 14.25 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.25 STLPG, and 1.75 BLKPG.
7. Tim Duncan – That Old Faithful isn’t lower on the list isn’t an indication of his performance as it is of the other participants. Though Duncan has been just about mediocre for four games, so have most players in this battle of legacies.
At the moment, the future Hall of Famer is averaging more turnovers than blocks, assists, and personal fouls.
8. Gary Neal – Another big night could see Neal climbing a few rungs in this ladder. As the Spurs’ Big Three struggle, Popovich might want to plug Neal into the formula a bit more as without him (and Green), the Spurs have only sunk in six 3-pointers.
How’s that for perspective?
9. Ray Allen – Strange that Allen migrated from Boston, a place where he of late flew under the radar, to Miami, where he’s currently doing the same despite being Mr. Dependable. Shooting 63% from the field, Allen has hit some crucial 3’s along the way, and is giving the Heat an important 4th option with Battier, Andersen, Chalmers, Cole and Miller so underutilized.