The latest picks and predictions favor the Golden State Warriors to win the 2022 NBA Finals after taking a 3-2 lead against Boston, one game away from bringing home another championship. As great as the stars like Steph Curry, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown have been, the 2022 Finals have shown us some vintage “random role player steps up game.”
Now with Boston on the brink of elimination, it’s time to start thinking of the NBA Finals MVP award, given to the most outstanding player in the series. Often it’s the stars winning the award, like Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 or Lebron James in 2020.
However, NBA fans have seen some unlikely role players step up when it mattered most and take home some hardware, like Andre Iguodala in 2015, Tony Parker in 2007, or James Worthy in 1988.
The Finals could end as early as Thursday, June 14, if Golden State can defeat Boston at home, so we decided to give performance letter grades to the players most likely to win the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award.
Despite having a poor shooting night in Game 5, in which he didn’t make a three for the first time in his playoff career, Steph Curry has still been the best player in the series by a landslide.
Game 4 saw the superstar score 43 points, and before that, 31 in Game 3, 29 in Game 2, and 34 in Game 1. Steph leads all scorers in the Finals, but it’s not just the shooting and scoring that makes his performance so immaculate.
The attention Steph Draws opens up scoring for everyone else. Even on his poor shooting night, Steph found a way to impact that game, dishing out eight assists to his teammates. All eyes of the defense are on Steph, and if you are smart enough to get open, the Two-Time MVP will find you.
It’s hard to see a scenario where Steph Curry doesn’t walk out of this finals with his first MVP, assuming the greatest shooter of all time doesn’t go 0-9 from the arch again, and the Warriors put a nail in the Celtics Coffin.
After starting the playoffs looking like one of the best Two-Way players in the league, Jayson Tatum has cooled off to some extent, while the Celtics have relied on team basketball the last few series. The 24-year-old’s biggest knock of the Finals would be his 23.2 points and 3.6 turnovers a game.
Luckily for the Celtics, everyone who gets minutes is a high-quality player. Tatum is still finding great ways to impact the game with his defense and seven assists per game. However, if Jayson Tatum wants to be talked about like a superstar, he must step up and take over.
Although Jaylen Brown’s numbers don’t exactly match Tatums, Brown has done everything asked of him in this series. He has played tremendous defense against whoever he is guarding and has gotten scorching hot multiple times to start the game.
The Celtics were never looked at as Jaylen Brown’s team, and they never will be, but Brown has figured out his co-star role perfectly. While everyone points the finger at Jayson Tatum as the guy to look to when the Celtics are struggling, Jaylen Brown has stepped up big time and delivered some huge shots these playoffs when Tatum has needed the help due to his struggles.
If the Celtics go on to win the next two games, Jaylen Brown has just as good a shot as Tatum to win this Finals MVP, and voters might just give it to Brown because of exceeding expectations.
After dropping 26 in Game 5, Andrew Wiggins has submitted his name on the ballot for the award. There was essentially no expectation for Wiggins to be the guy the Warriors lean on in big moments in any way, but he’s been their second most consistent player after Steph.
He would most likely need a big Game 6 and another great Game 7 to take the award away from Steph, but anything is possible.
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