The Finals concluded last night in electrifying fashion, so now's a great time to look back at some of the greatest NBA Finals MVPs of the last 11 years. From the Slim Reaper to Iggy, here's the definitive ranking of some of the best players on the NBA's biggest stage:
The Last 11 NBA Finals MVPs, Ranked
11.) 2015 Andre Iguodala: 16.3 PPG, 5.8 REB, 4.0 AST
Beat Cavaliers 4-2
What could have been a great battle between the up and coming Warriors and the Lebron-led Cavs was reduced to a six game series that was not very close due to injuries. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were both sidelined this series so Lebron was left with no supporting cast. It's astonishing that the Cavs were capable of winning two games to be completely honest. Steph Curry should have been the MVP this series averaging 26/6/5, but instead Iggy was handed the MVP for his defense on Lebron. Iguodala had a stellar series, but Steph was the best player on the Warriors, so this Finals MVP is pretty weak.
10.) 2014 Kawhi Leonard: 17.8 PPG, 6.4 REB, 2.0 AST
Beat Heat 4-1
This was another series that did not quite live up to the hype. 2014 gave us the Heat vs Spurs part two, a rematch of the previous year's finals, which went 7 games. The Spurs completely dominated the Heat from the rip and it was never close. Kawhi played lockdown defense on Lebron and it launched him into superstardom. With that being said, he was far from the best or most dominant player on the Spurs. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were playing some of their most efficient basketball. They simply knew how to go out and win together and it showed this series. This is a weaker finals MVP because it really could have gone to any of these players, but like the previous year, locking down LeBron will lock you in as finals MVP.
9.) 2019 Kawhi Leonard: 28.5 PPG, 9.8 REB, 4.2 AST
Beat Warriors 4-2
In his one year with the Raptors, Kawhi capped off one of the best individual playoff runs in NBA history with a championship. They took on a Warriors team with a sidelined Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. With a fully healthy squad, this series most likely goes a lot differently. A huge factor into the Raptors closing out this series was also Kyle Lowry. Lowry holds a number of records for the Raptors and will have his jersey in the rafters one day. I think that this Raptors team was really underrated and is going to be fun to look back on.
8.) 2011 Dirk Nowitzki: 26.0 PPG, 9.7 REB, 2.0 AST
Beat Heat 4-2
These Finals can be defined as maybe the greatest Davis and Goliath story in NBA history. This was the Heat’s first year together as the big three with Lebron, Wade and Bosh and they plowed through the East. They hit a roadblock in the Finals against the big man from Germany, Dirk Nowitzki. This Finals was the epitome of “it takes a team to win,” which is why I don’t have Dirk ranked higher. I vividly remember watching Dirk hit clutch bucket after clutch bucket almost every game though, and he did elevate the Mavericks to the Larry O’Brien.
7.) 2013 Lebron James: 25.3 PPG, 10.9 REB, 7.0 AST
Beat Spurs 4-3
The first matchup of the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs in the Finals was unforgettable. A seven-game series that looked so over in game 6 that Heat fans left the arena before Ray Allen hit his famous shot from the corner. Lebron was incredible this series, despite missing the game-tying three in game six. He made up for it with a dagger jumper to close the series in game seven. This was LeBron’s second consecutive Finals MVP and was the second most physically dominant season of his career.
6.) 2018 Kevin Durant: 28.8 PPG, 10.8 REB, 7.5 AST
Beat Cav’s 4-0
This was easily the most mismatched Finals we saw in the last decade. LeBron carried a questionable Cavs roster to a fourth consecutive final. The 2018 conference Finals saw the Warriors and Cavs both go to seven games, so both teams had to fight to reach the Finals. The Warriors were playing their best basketball ever in the Finals and the whole team just dominated. There was no question who was winning this championship and Kevin Durant could not be stopped.
5.) 2012 Lebron James: 28.6 PPG, 10.2 REB, 7.4 AST
Beat Thunder 4-1
The 2012 season ended with LeBron James finally capturing his first NBA championship. This was easily the most physically dominant season of Lebron's career. He punished opposing players on both ends of the floor and was relentless. Facing off against the baby Thunder was no challenge for the Heat. You could see the vengeance in LeBron's eyes all series from losing the year prior against the Mavericks. I like to call this the Supervillian era of LeBron’s career.
4.) 2016 Lebron James: 29.7 PPG, 8.2 REB, 5.4 AST
Beat Warriors 4-3
In LeBron’s own words, capping off the 3-1 comeback against the Warriors propelled him to the ‘GOAT’ of basketball. This was without question the greatest NBA finals of the last ten years and debatably ever. A stacked Warriors roster that just had the best regular season of all time against Lebron and one of the most efficient offensive teams of all time. Even though Kyrie Irving hit the game-winning shot of game 7, Lebron was omnipresent on both ends, doing anything and everything needed to win. This game gave us the most famous Lebron block ever and one of Mike Breen's best calls.
3.) 2020 Lebron James: 29.8 PPG, 11.8 REB, 8.5 AST
Beat Heat 4-2
One of the most telling moments I remember from “The Last Dance” documentary about the 90s Chicago Bulls dynasty was when it was said that Michael Jordan was at his deadliest in 1993 because he simply knew how to go in and win games. I think the same will be said about LeBron's 2020 campaign. This will be remembered as the bubble NBA finals in Orlando amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, but LeBron’s command of this series cannot be overlooked. Nearly averaging a 30 point triple-double, I think this was LeBron's most dominating NBA Finals performance of all time.
2.) 2017 Kevin Durant: 35.2 PPG, 8.2 REB, 5.4 AST
Beat Cavs 4-1
Taking the number 2 spot in our rankings is Kevin Durant's 2017 NBA Finals campaign. In his first year with the Warriors, Durant was playing the best basketball of his life. He seemed happier than ever and looked like he was genuinely having fun. It’s not hard to have fun when you average 35 points while shooting 55% from the field, 47% from three and 92% from the free-throw line. This was the most dominant performance I have ever witnessed live in an NBA Finals game. No matter who the Cavs threw at Durant, he would just pull up and hit the most insane shots. Kevin Durant gets a lot of hate for his move to the Warriors, but looking at the numbers he was putting up and the result, I really can’t blame him for making the move.
1.) 2021 Giannis Antetokounmpo: 35.2 PPG. 13.2 REB, 5.0 AST
Beat Suns 4-2
Just last offseason, Giannis took an alternate route than most superstars take when he re-signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. Some said that he couldn’t win without a super-team, and others said no one would want to play with him in a market like Milwaukee. Now at the young age of 26, Giannis has completed his hall of fame resume. I would say this is one of those rare championships like Dirk's in 2011 when it really felt like one guy had a whole city on his back. I don’t think there is another player as deserving of this glory than Giannis.