The shooting guards in the NBA these days are required to do a lot on the floor, as teams are focusing on efficient ways of scoring a ton of points and using their shooting guards to accomplish that. Since they are the players who take the bulk of the shots on most occasions and have green lights, All-Star shooting guards are extremely valuable. Of course, we have some of the most spectacular offensive players in the game today, including Devin Booker, James Harden, and Bradley Beal, compete at All-Star levels at the shooting guard position. For the best shooting guards, winning scoring titles and leading a team to strong records year after year come naturally to them because of how effortlessly they can create offense for themselves.
Even when looking throughout NBA history, shooting guards have been given the keys to taking the most perimeter shots. Guys of elite caliber at this position have been Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Tracy McGrady, and Reggie Miller, among many others. Each shooting guard was given the ultimate green light, and that extends to modern-day shooting guards who love to shoot and score the ball. Since scoring points leads to wins, it is no wonder why some shooting guards in NBA history have managed to lead a team to the NBA Finals and actually get the job done as Finals MVPs.
Looking back at the very start of the NBA until the 2022 season, here are the Finals MVP winners at the shooting guard position. Only one name will appear more than once, and some other players managed to take their teams to an entirely different level by dominating the court during the NBA Finals in a particular year. Without further ado, here is every Finals MVP award winner at the shooting guard spot in NBA history.
1968-69 Finals MVP - Jerry West
Finals Statistics: 37.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 7.4 APG
The Finals MVP award of a Finals series always goes to the best player on the winning team. After all, the best player on the best team is the deciding factor in almost every MVP race in NBA history. However, in only one instance, the Finals MVP award was given to a player on a losing team. On May 5th, 1969, Jerry West became the first player in NBA history to win the NBA Finals MVP in a losing effort. While playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry West won the award despite losing to the Boston Celtics by 2 points in the deciding Game 7. The Los Angeles Lakers had won every game of the series, so it was a surprise when the Celtics won Game 7 on the road.
In fact, the Lakers owner had famously ordered thousands of balloons with the text “World Champion Lakers” printed on them, confidently showcasing his belief that his side was going to defeat the rival Celtics. Anytime a superstar like Jerry West was on the roster, it was easy to feel confident when heading into a Game 7. But somehow, that did not happen, because even a monster performance from the guard was not enough to usurp what John Havlicek, Em Jones, and Sam Jones did on the court in the closeout game. Havlicek posted 26 points and 9 rebounds, Bryant had 20 points, and Sam Jones posted 24 points and 7 rebounds. Superstar Bill Russell was also a force on the defensive end, posting 6 points and 21 rebounds in the winning effort.
Jerry West ended up winning the Finals MVP but he, of course, could not be blamed for the loss, as he poured in 42 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. There was no more West could have done on the court, and he did have some help in Elgin Baylor (20 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists) and Wilt Chamberlain (18 points, 27 rebounds) but the Celtics were simply a force on the court at that time. Boston managed to come up with clutch baskets, including a late 18-foot heave by Don Nelson, which essentially ended the game following a costly Lakers turnover. Still, for his tremendous effort, West captured the Finals MVP award as the shooting guard of his team.
1978-79 Finals MVP - Dennis Johnson
Finals Statistics: 22.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.8 SPG, 2.2 BPG
Dennis Johnson won Finals MVP in the 1979 NBA Finals, leading a talented Seattle SuperSonics team to a championship victory over 5 games. Johnson posted 22.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 6.0 APG, which overcame Bob Dandridge (21.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 5.4 APG), Elvin Hayes (20.0 PPG, 11.8 RPG), and the rest of the Washington Bullets. Johnson also had his own help in the form of Gus Williams (29.0 PPG, 3.6 APG), and Jack Sikma (15.8 PPG, 14.8 RPG), which is why his team ended up with the victory.
But Johnson was the man over the 5 games, and he was the best player for a team that delivered the championship for the Seattle SuperSonics. He scored 113 total points in the series, capping it off with a 21-point and 5-assist display in the close-out Game 5. Thanks to a balanced effort by the entire SuperSonics team, the championship was won thanks to a 97-93 victory. As the team’s leading playmaker, Johnson certainly had his impact felt.
It took 10 years before a shooting guard would win the Finals MVP award after Jerry West did it in 1969. Dennis Johnson played the most minutes on the Celtics team, posting 44.8 MPG and also nailing 45.9% from the field and 71.9% from the line. Thanks to Johnson’s efficiency as a scorer and the biggest threat on the floor for the SuperSonics as a playmaker as well, he became one of the only six players at his position who ever won the coveted Finals MVP award.
1988-89 Finals MVP - Joe Dumars
Finals Statistics: 27.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 6.0 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG
In one of the two Finals during the 1980s decade that did not end up with the Lakers or Celtics winning the championship, the Detroit Pistons regrouped for a rematch against the Purple and Gold. During the regular season, Magic Johnson was the league MVP after posting averages of 22.5 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 12.8 APG while shooting a career-high 91.1% from the free-throw line. The Lakers were still the team to beat, even with Kareem past his 40s. But it was time for the “Bad Boy” Pistons to reign supreme.
The Detroit Pistons, led by their rough and physical play, dismantled the Lakers in a 4-game sweep. The Lakers stood no chance in terms of physicality and aggression and were outplayed on both ends of the floor. Finals MVP Joe Dumars was at his absolute apex during the series, averaging 27.3 PPG and 6.0 APG on 57.6% from the field and 86.8% from the free-throw line. With Dumars’ ability to carry an offense and also play aggressive perimeter defense, the Pistons thoroughly earned their championship.
For the sake of fairness, the Lakers were nowhere near full health with Magic Johnson only playing in 3 games during the series while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper were showing signs of age. With Dumars (25) and Isiah Thomas (27) in their prime, the Pistons were simply the better and more aggressive team and they earned their 1988-89 championship and the following season’s title run as well.
1990-91 Finals MVP - Michael Jordan
Finals Statistics: 31.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 11.4 APG, 2.8 SPG, 1.4 BPG
While his 1988 season captures the most attention thanks to the Defensive Player of the Year achievement, Jordan’s 1991 season might be the most significant because it gave him the proof that he was the king of the world if there was any doubt. The legendary Bulls guard accomplished everything in the NBA season, from the scoring title to his first NBA title at the end of the year.
Jordan dropped 31.2 PPG in the Finals series against the Los Angeles Lakers, an exciting matchup for the ages. We got to see MJ take on Magic Johnson and the Lakers, although it ended completely in the Bulls’ favor. By far the most dominant scorer, Jordan took over his first successful Finals series. Magic was solid in the series, posting 18.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 12.4 APG for the Lakers.
But Michael was the better scorer and all-around better player, ending the series in 5 games. With his first Finals MVP and NBA championship in his hands, Michael would kick start a dynasty that would last the better part of the 1990s. It is often said that tasting victory the first time creates an addiction, and that is what Michael certainly had following the 1990-91 NBA Finals.
1991-92 Finals MVP - Michael Jordan
Finals Statistics: 35.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.3 BPG
For the second-straight year, Michael Jordan won the MVP award with the Chicago Bulls and also ended the season with a Finals MVP award and NBA champion of the world. The superstar shooting guard averaged 35.8 PPG in the series, once again taking over the series by outscoring the likes of Clyde Drexler with the Portland Trail Blazers. Clyde averaged 24.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 5.3 APG in the series, solid numbers although he only shot 40.7% from the field.
Averaging 35.8 PPG on 52.6% shooting and chipping in 6.5 APG, no player was as dominant as the legendary Bulls guard. The Chicago Bulls superstar completely owned his matchup en route to his second-straight championship, and there was really no doubt considering how spectacular he was during the regular season. For the fans’ sake, it was being marketed that Jordan and Drexler would meet in the Finals.
As expected, Michael got the better end of the matchup and he went on to complete an iconic 3-peat a year later. With two championships and two Finals MVPs to his name, MJ was already separating himself from the rest of the pack. Of course, he would stand in a league of his own by the end of his career.
1992-93 Finals MVP - Michael Jordan
Finals Statistics: 41.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Michael Jordan seemed to be getting better each Finals series because the wins would keep piling up as the Bulls guard continued his scoring dominance. The superstar dropped 41.0 PPG on 50.8% shooting, sublime numbers for a perimeter scorer that takes the bulk of the shots. Against a dominant Phoenix Suns squad led by Charles Barkley in the Finals, Jordan had every answer that the opposition threw at him. The shooting guard barely missed a step and owned both ends of the court.
Even the great Charles Barkley could not keep up, as Jordan outscored everyone in the Finals yet again. Barkley held his own with 27.3 PPG and 13.0 RPG, but he was not on Jordan’s level, something he admitted on his own accord years later. Completing his 3-peat of championships and Finals MVPs already made MJ the greatest of all time, but the shooting guard would not be done just yet, as he would return to dominance after a brief retirement phase.
1995-96 Finals MVP - Michael Jordan
Finals Statistics: 27.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
In the 1996 season, Michael Jordan averaged 30.4 PPG on 49.5% shooting from the field in his first full season following his retirement. But MJ continued that into the playoffs, once again leading the Chicago Bulls into the Finals against the Seattle SuperSonics led by “The Glove” Gary Payton and lob target Shawn Kemp. This would not be an easy series for the Chicago Bulls, which is why it lasted 6 games.
Interestingly, Michael Jordan had somewhat of an average Finals series for his lofty series, but he still got the job done by averaging 27.3 PPG. Amazingly, Jordan only shot 41.5% from the field and was not his usual dominant self on the offensive end. He did lead all players in scoring unsurprisingly, but he had to work for it more than usual. Gary Payton deserves credit in that regard, even though Jordan probably won’t give him any. But Jordan still got the job done, winning Finals MVP by being the leading scorer and win-shares leader. That was his 4th Finals MVP award to go along with his 4th championship.
1996-97 Finals MVP - Michael Jordan
Finals Statistics: 32.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.8 BPG
The superstar Chicago Bulls guard was at his best in the 1997 season, clearly getting back to his elite level in terms of efficiency and numbers. Michael Jordan and the Bulls found themselves in the Finals in a matchup against the Utah Jazz, a team led by superstars Karl Malone and John Stockton. Again, this was not expected to be an easy series for the Bulls in any way, because Utah were tough and sometimes dirty on defense. Offensively, they had the best pick-n-roll duo in NBA history.
But Jordan led all scorers again by posting 32.3 PPG on 45.6% shooting from the field, once again proving there was no answer for him when he was at his best. Karl Malone did his best to counter Jordan by averaging 23.8 PPG and 10.3 RPG in the series, and Stockton was solid with 15.0 PPG and 8.8 APG. But they could not match Jordan and his partner Scottie Pippen (20.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG). The Bulls ended it in 6 games, once again failing to play in a Game 7 in any NBA Finals.
MJ was not only the most athletic player in the league but the single most talented player in the game who started tasting glory again. With 5 championships and 5 Finals MVPs under his belt, MJ would complete his second 3-peat the following year, an incredible achievement for the most incredible shooting guard the NBA has ever seen.
1997-98 Finals MVP - Michael Jordan
Finals Statistics: 33.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG
In a Finals rematch, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls took on the Utah Jazz in a 6-game series. Despite the best efforts of Karl Malone (25.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG) and John Stockton (9.7 PPG and 8.7 APG), the Jazz could not force Jordan and the Bulls to play in a Game 7. Michael stole the show again, averaging 33.5 PPG 42.7% shooting over the 6 games, leading all scorers and also leading all players in win shares (4.8). I
t was always going to be written that MJ would capture his 6th NBA title and 6th Finals MVP award because his era of dominance reigned unlike any other athlete in professional team sports. Jordan is one of six players who ever won the Finals MVP award as a shooting guard, and he did it 6 times. Of course, MJ is also the player with the most Finals MVP awards in NBA history, as the second-most is 4 which is held by LeBron James. It is truly hard to compare any player in history to MJ because the Bulls superstar was so far ahead of everyone else that there is no comparison. After Jordan won his 6th Finals MVP in 1998, the next time a shooting guard would capture the next Finals MVP would come 8 years later.
2005-06 Finals MVP - Dwyane Wade
Finals Statistics: 34.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 2.7 SPG, 1.0 BPG
In the 2006 Finals series, Dwyane Wade averaged 34.7 PPG on 46.8% shooting from the field in the greatest season of his career. Wade completely took over the Finals, as he was simply unstoppable with the ball in his hands, and his ability to draw fouls was the story of the Finals. The Dallas Mavericks took a convincing 2-0 series lead, but Wade would go off over the next 4 games by finishing as the leading scorer each time. Dwyane was unstoppable slicing to the rim, and there was no stopping him unless he was fouled.
Unfortunately for the Dallas Mavericks, Wade shot 77.3% from the line after making an impressive 75 out of 97 shots. Wade had some help with Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal (13.7 RPG, 10.2 RPG) and consistent wing Antoine Walker (13.8 PPG), but the series was all about him. Dwyane had one of the greatest Finals performances in NBA history, and that was definitely needed because the Mavericks were a great team all year long led by superstar Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk averaged 22.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG in the Finals, but Wade simply outplayed him on the court and shocked the world with a Michael Jordan-esque performance. Wade winning this Finals MVP award was even more significant because he added a ton of pressure on Kobe Bryant’s plate because the Lakers guard did not have a Finals MVP despite being in the league much longer than Wade was. Nonetheless, the greatest Miami Heat player of all time is one of only six players to have ever won a Finals MVP award as a shooting guard.
2008-09 Finals MVP - Kobe Bryant
Finals Statistics: 32.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Other than Michael Jordan, no other shooting guard won as many Finals MVPs as Kobe Bryant did, and quite frankly, no shooting guard has come close to the legend’s dominance as a player. The Lakers then won the 2009 title over the Orlando Magic thanks to their magical shooting guard, who put up 32.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 7.4 APG in the Finals. Kobe outplayed Dwight Howard across from him, and also led his side in points, assists, and minutes. Bryant had some incredible performances over his postseason career but his 2009 season could be his best ever when looking at the totality of his achievements.
Capping a season off with a championship and Finals MVP award is truly one of the best ways to make a mark in history, especially when it was the first chip Bryant won without the presence of Shaquille O’Neal. It was clear that we were seeing the best in the game at his position, and he kept making more impressive performances in the playoffs leading up to the Finals. The fact that the Lakers also took out a talented Orlando Magic team in only 5 games in the Finals made it sweeter because it showed the Lakers (and especially Kobe Bryant) were the dominant side in the NBA.
Howard did hold his own with averages of 15.4 PPG, 15.2 RPG, and 4.0 BPG, but he could not handle the offensive end as efficiently as Kobe did with the Lakers. The shooting guard was simply on another level as a scorer, using his determination and skill to control the pace of the series and end it in 5 games. Sure, Bryant had his help with Pau Gasol by his side(18.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG), but the shooting guard was the undisputed best player in the series and the numbers will back that up. With his first Finals MVP award firmly in his grasp, Kobe was already in a league of his own in the NBA by the time the 2009 season was over.
2009-10 Finals MVP - Kobe Bryant
Finals Statistics: 28.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Kobe Bryant’s second straight championship in 2010 resulted in him earning his second Finals MVP with the Lakers. Bryant averaged 28.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.9 APG, and 2.1 SPG while leading Los Angeles to a Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics led by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. To give credit where it is due, Kobe had strong help from the second-best player on his team. The Boston Celtics struggled to handle Pau Gasol (18.6 PPG and 11.6 RPG), who had a big series and especially showed up in Game 7 when Kendrick Perkins was not in the lineup. Gasol posted 19 points and 18 rebounds in the close-out Game 7.
But Bryant once again led all players in scoring in the critical Game 7, posting 23 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. He shot a putrid 6-24 from the floor, but he made shots when they counted and had an assist to Ron Artest’s three-pointer that ultimately gave the Lakers the victory. The 2010 Finals was certainly an ugly series, but Kobe managed to post an impressive 28.6 PPG and 8.0 RPG to close out a superteam Celtics squad to solidify his legacy as easily the second-best shooting guard ever behind Michael Jordan.
Bryant was the most consistent performer on the court in the 2010 Finals as he led all players in scoring, unsurprisingly. The Black Mamba would not be denied his 5th NBA championship and no shooting guard has come close to replicating Bryant’s dominance in the Finals since he won the title in 2010. Nowadays, dominant small forwards are the key to success in the grandest stage of them all and we do not anticipate a shooting guard to take Kobe’s spot in the near future.