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Why hasn’t Steph Curry won the NBA Finals MVP trophy?

Steph Curry has played in 28 NBA Finals with huge numbers, is the 3-point king, but has lost the MVP finals title to his teammates 3 times now. What gives?

Jennifer Bubel

The media love to criticize. We sit here, sipping our tea and judging professional athletes, saying “Well I see that this player has averaged 26.5 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game, shooting 38.5% from 3-point range, but if he’s so good, WHERE IS THE MVP TITLE?” We want that validation. Otherwise, well, we’re just unimpressed.

But what is up with Stephen Curry not winning the finals MVP title despite putting up MVP-like numbers in the finals? He’s won the All-Star MVP, NBA MVP twice, and won the NBA championship three times with the Warriors. In all three of those championships, however, Curry watched Andre Iguodala win it (2015) and Kevin Durant win it twice (2017, 2018). Draymond Green made the point that Durant only won it because he wasn’t as double-teamed as Curry was in those series. Durant, however, disagreed, saying that was “100% false”.

Will 2022 finally be the year that Curry takes home the title and gets the media to recognize him as legitimate (I’m sure he really cares)? Let’s take a look at what happened in the previous finals and how Curry could win the Finals MVP title this time around.

2015 NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers - Iguodala wins Finals MVP

In coach Steve Kerr’s first year with the Warriors, they went on to win 67 regular-season games. Curry won the regular season league MVP title , averaging 23.8 points and 7.7 assists per game and managing to break his own 3-point record with 286 that season. In the finals, the Warriors faced LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the series, Curry averaged 26 points per game on 44.3% shooting from the field and 38.5% shooting from long range. Iguodala, who averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and shot 52.1% from field goal range, won the Finals MVP. The Warriors were down in the series 2-1, but once Iguodala took over, he changed everything. Defending LeBron James is a huge task - he led the entire series in points, assists, and rebounds. But Iguodala managed to do it. The Warriors then went 4-2 to win the series. The case could be made that Curry made the difference on offense and Iguodala made the difference on defense. Both were clearly of value to the team and getting those wins, but defending James was key.

2017 NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers again - Durant wins Finals MVP

In 2017, the Warriors added Kevin Durant to their lineup and went to their third straight NBA finals. They again won 67 regular season games to get there and had an incredibly impressive playoff run, sweeping all three teams ahead of the finals. They nearly swept the Cavaliers in the playoffs too, winning three straight before suffering one single loss in Game 4. This time, however, it would be harder to make the case for Curry. Durant averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.2 steals on 55.6% shooting from field goal range. Comparatively, Curry averaged 26.8 points, 8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and one steal on 44% shooting from field goal range. Curry is so good that shooting 44% from the field and 38.3% on 3-pointers is actually low for him. If he’d only lowered our expectations, he may have won it, but probably not with Durant next to him, putting up stats like that.

2018 NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers yet again - Durant wins Finals MVP…yet again

This would be the fourth year in a row that the Cavaliers and Warriors faced each other in the NBA Finals. The Warriors swept them in four games. Curry and Durant’s numbers were so close, and it was both of them who made the series sweep possible. But Durant still just had that slight edge. Curry’s stats for the series: 27.5 points, 6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 40.2% field goal range. Durant’s stats for the series: 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 52.6% field goal range.

2022 NBA Finals: Golden State Warriors vs Boston Celtics - will Curry win the Finals MVP?

So far in the playoffs, Curry has averaged 25.9 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.9 rebounds. His odds are looking good. There’s no Durant to compete with this time around, but there is a Klay Thompson, who’s been a big difference-maker for the Warriors in the playoffs. If Curry continues as he has been though, he should win it. Against the Mavs, he shot around 42% beyond the arc and scored over 30 points in both Games 1 and 2, which basically decided the series. This could be the year Curry finally wins the Bill Russell award.


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