Conference Finals MVP: Who will win?
The NBA added a new trophy in 2022 for the MVP of the Western and Eastern Conference finals. Here’s a look at the top contenders.
The NBA arguably would not be the powerhouse it is today without the likes of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Those two players lifted the league into popularity and consequentially now have trophies named after them. In 2022, the NBA added a Conference Final MVP award, the Western named after Magic Johnson and the Eastern named after Larry Bird.
We’re now in the midst of the conference finals with the Celtics and Heat competing in the East and the Warriors and Mavericks competing in the West. There are several key players who could be in contention for the Conference Final MVP title. Let’s take a look at the most likely of the bunch.
Eastern Conference MVP contenders
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler is good. Playoff Jimmy Butler is incredible. His scoring has increased by 7.3 points, his rebounds by 1.7, and his steals by 1.6 to 2.1, plus is shooting 52.5% on field goals as opposed to his 43% in the regular season. That makes a big difference. Without Butler, there’s no question the Heat wouldn’t have gotten this far. In the playoffs, he turns into a beast.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum put up 46 points in Game 6 against the Bucks and is keeping that momentum going for the Celtics in the conference finals. He led the Celtics to victory in Game 2 over the Miami Heat with 27 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Even reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo commented on how well Tatum has played in the postseason after he and the Celtics knocked out the Bucks in the semifinals.
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown made a big difference in the Game 2 win over the Heat as well, putting up 24 points and eight rebounds. He and Tatum together are a dynamic duo that make the Celtics even harder to stop. Alone they’re valuable, but as a pair, even more so. Brown became the seventh player in Celtics history to reach the 50-point mark in a game when they played the Magic back in January. 24 of those points came in the 4th quarter. Brown has the ability to step up and play aggressively that way quick and when it matters.
Western Conference MVP contenders
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
23-year-old Luka Doncic has had the responsibility of carrying this Mavericks team on several occasions during the post season. In Game 7 against the Phoenix Suns, he had 35 points and 10 rebounds, making him the second-youngest NBA player to ever do so. Despite the Game 1 loss to the Warriors, Doncic played beat up and scratched and outscored all his other teammates.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry has won the All Star title eight times and has led the Warriors to 20 postseason wins out of the las 22. He ended the conference semifinals with his 31st career 20+ point postseason outing. In every postseason game so far, he’s hit at least one 3-pointer. Accounting for 26.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game in the postseason, Curry makes a big difference in the Warriors’ success.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson is also a huge difference maker for Golden State. He’s been one of the top shooters in the NBA this season, averaging 18.5 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals in the conference semifinals. He finished the series with a 30+ point outing, his 15th in his postseason career. He’s now tied with Curry, Damian Lillard, and Ray Allen for most 3-pointers in a game (eight).