When Steve Nash won MVP in 2006, there were a lot of questions. LeBron James put up a spectacular season in which the Cavaliers won 50 games. Given how much Nash defeated LeBron, it was a shock that the vote was not closer. However, there was one glaring stat that separated Nash from the rest.
Among others, Kobe Bryant led the league in scoring, while Dirk Nowitzki owned the most win shares. Chauncey Billups led the Pistons to a league-leading 64 win. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade missed out on the top-5 in voting but won the Finals MVP, which is probably the award everyone wanted to win anyway.
Dwyane Wade - 87 Points
Stats: 27.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Wade didn’t receive a single first-place vote when the voting was done. Elton Brand, who finished seventh, received one first-place vote, but Wade had enough points to beat him for sixth place. It’s not that Wade had a terrible season either, which is wild that Wade didn’t get any love from the voters. After all, the Heat were the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with 52 wins.
In the playoffs, the combination of Wade and Shaquille O’Neal lifted the Heat to the NBA Finals, where they met the Dallas Mavericks. Wade had an exceptional NBA Finals, where he led the Heat to their first championship in franchise history and won Finals MVP. While a sixth place in the regular season voting hurt for a minute, Wade is the only player on this list that won a ring this season.
5. Chauncey Billups - 430 Points
Stats: 18.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 8.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG
The Pistons were still amid their dynasty, where Billups was the main man leading the charge. The Pistons won a league-leading 64 games, but Billups finished fifth in the voting. That likely came because the Pistons were a very well-rounded team. One could say that Billups was the best player on the team, but the team also had Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, and Ben Wallace all playing at a high level.
Billups also wasn’t high in the rankings for stats. His numbers were lower, while his field goal percentage was only 41%. The voters likely looked at the Pistons as a whole team rather than one player leading them to such a high win total.
4. Kobe Bryant - 483 Points
Stats: 35.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG
When you look at Bryant’s scoring numbers, you automatically question why he finished fourth. How could a player that averaged 35 points only finish fourth in the MVP race? Especially, when Bryant had the lead of the Lakers without Shaq. There are quite a few reasons for that.
For starters, the Lakers finished third in the division with a 45-37 record. Next, for anyone that wants to point to what James Harden did in 2018, you need to calm down. Harden led the Rockets to 65 wins, which included eight more wins than a Warriors team that had Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant. Bryant led the Lakers to just eight games over .500. Still, scoring 35 points each night or more is pretty dang hard, so kudos to Bryant regardless. In the end, Bryant received the second-most first-place votes with 22.
3. Dirk Nowitzki - 544 Points
Stats: 26.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.0 BPG
The season was so deep with talent that three teams won 60 or more games. Usually, winning 60 or more games puts you in consideration for the No. 1 seed. The Spurs nixed that when they won 63 games, while the Mavericks won 60. With that said, it was the Mavericks that marched to the NBA Finals before falling to the Heat.
In the regular season, Nowitzki led the league in winning shares with 17.7. Had Nowitzki shot the ball two percent better, he might have won the MVP. Nowitzki nearly made the 50-40-90 club by shooting 48.0% from the field, 40.6% from three-point range, and 90.1% from the free-throw line. Making that club is an exclusive event, but the 2005-2006 season nearly saw two people do it.
2. LeBron James - 688 Points
Stats: 31.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG
The near 300-point difference between Nash and LeBron seems pretty high given what LeBron did with the Cavaliers. For starters, the second leading scorers on the team were Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes. LeBron wasn’t playing with Tony Parker, Jason Terry, or Rip Hamilton. He was playing with way less talent and led the team to 50 wins and the No. 3 seed in the East.
LeBron scored the second-most points and owned the highest value over replacement players (9.4). That was higher than Bryant, Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, and Wade. Steve Nash didn’t even make the top-5. In a way, it feels like LeBron was robbed of the MVP, especially when the Suns only won four more games than the Cavaliers.
1. Steve Nash - 924 Points
Stats: 18.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 10.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Nash’s biggest argument for winning the MVP was likely that he made the 50-40-90 club. Nash shot 51.2% from the field, 43.9% from three-point range, and 92.1% from the free-throw line. As a team, the Suns averaged 108.1 points per game, which was about six points higher than the second-best team. Nash also led the league in assists, free throw percentage, and true shooting percentage.
When it comes to looking at other variables, Nash owned the lowest win shares total of anyone on this list with 12.4. Nash averaged four more assists than LeBron, but scored 13 fewer points, rebounded less, and LeBron doubled Nash’s steals count. Nash received 57 first-place votes in comparison to LeBron’s 16. In the end, Nash won his second straight MVP, but this goes down as one that will be talked about for years to come.