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The 2022 NBA Finals MVP Award Ladder: Stephen Curry Is Close To Winning His First Award

The 2022 NBA Finals MVP Award Ladder: Stephen Curry Is Close To Winning His First Award

The NBA Finals is slowly coming to an end as we approach Game 6 on Thursday night. The Boston Celtics looked to be in control of the series, but Golden State’s massive win in Game 5 has given the San Francisco-based franchise the momentum. With the 3-2 series lead in their favor, the Warriors have a massive chance to close the series in 6 games in Boston. So far, the stars have shown up on both ends of the floor while also role players have been just as effective in their own capacity. Thanks to the brilliance of Andrew Wiggins and the big-time shots by Klay Thompson in Game 5, the Warriors captured an extremely important win on Monday night.

Wiggins dropped 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 assists while Thompson chipped in 21 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists to make up for a nightmare shooting night by Stephen Curry. The best player on the team, Steph, only shot 31.8% from the floor and went 0-9 from three en route to a quiet 16 points. Without Curry playing at his best, Wiggins was the best player on both ends of the court, as he played arguably the best game of his career in terms of all-around impact. Of course, Klay’s shooting gave the Warriors some much-needed points when the Celtics went on a run in the third quarter.

Unfortunately for Boston, they had 18 turnovers and once again shot themselves in the foot by failing to make accurate plays and giving the Warriors countless chances to take leads. Tatum showed up on the stat sheet with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists, but he failed to keep a solid handle on the ball, while Jaylen Brown only scored 18 points. The Celtics have not played well over the last two games, and deserve to be behind in the series considering their lack of consistency and care of the basketball.

With Game 5 over and Game 6 on Thursday night, it is time to uncover the Finals MVP power rankings. The winners of the NBA Finals are normally in pole contention to win the Finals MVP award, and the play of Andrew Wiggins has seen him vault into contention for the valuable award. Could this series be a case where a potential favorite for the award Stephen Curry gets usurped? Or is there another player on either the Celtics or Warriors in pole position to win the award? With Golden State leading the series heading into Game 6 in Boston, it could be expected that one of their main players is leading the race for Finals MVP. Here are the Finals MVP power rankings following Game 5.

Honorable Mention

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart Ready To Finally See Boston Celtics Become Champions: "I Won't Settle For Anything Less Than Banner 18"

Finals Statistics: 16.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.0 BPG

Marcus Smart can be a game-changer on defense as the Defensive Player of the Year, but he can also hurt his team with his inability to make efficient passes to prevent ill-timed turnovers. Smart is also a streaky shooter because he can get very hot or very cold, which leaves the Celtics living or dying by his shot-making. Sure, Smart has his faults, and critics are often quick to point that out. But he is an invaluable presence for the Boston Celtics because he is their best defender who hustles for loose balls better than anyone on the court. Over the first 5 games of the Finals, Smart is holding his own by averaging 16.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 4.2 APG on 44.8% from the field, 40.6% from three, and 75.0% from the free-throw line. Despite being a defensive presence before anything else, Marcus has done a good job on offense when he hasn’t been turning it over.

Smart has accumulated the second-most turnovers in the series behind Jayson Tatum with 16, a major factor in why the Celtics have not been able to take control of the series despite being in the position to do so. While Smart is not to be blamed entirely, because Tatum and Brown also have a combined 33 turnovers between them, he has to receive a fair share due to him being the primary point guard. Smart is not a natural point guard, so he deserves a pass in some regard, but he has to make better decisions with the ball and make big shots if the Celtics want to force Game 7. As the third-best player on the team, Smart must continue stroking the ball at a 40% clip from beyond because that could be the Celtics’ only hope if Tatum and Brown fall into their cold streaks.

5. Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson

Finals Statistics: 18.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Klay Thompson is clearly not the same player he used to be, but he is still an offensive presence with the ability to shoot from the perimeter and also act as a decoy when he is not making his shots. On defense, Thompson has also done a solid job because the Warriors have suffocated the Celtics over the past two games. Through 5 games in the Finals, Klay is averaging 18.0 PPG on only 38.3% from the field and 36.7% from three. Clearly, Thompson is not the same All-Star player we have come to know before his two major injuries. Nonetheless, Klay’s presence as a shooter has helped the Warriors play excellent team basketball and the 5-time All-Star had arguably his best performance of the Finals in Game 5.

Thompson scored 21 points on 50% shooting, going 5-11 from the three-point line and 2-2 from the free-throw line. With Klay making big shots and competing on defense, the Celtics could not answer despite Tatum’s 26 points. No doubt about it, Klay was the second-best player on the floor behind Andrew Wiggins on Monday night. Even with Klay shooting under 40% from the field, the sharpshooter has been a thorn in Boston’s side with his threat of making jumpers. Even if Klay is 0-10 from the floor, if he has an open shot, the Celtics defenders must scramble to contest his jumpers or risk giving up three points. Thompson is not 100%, but he doesn’t need to be for the Warriors to win the Finals. Rather, he just needs to continue his unselfish play on both ends of the floor because Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins are doing the rest.

4. Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown and Klay Thompson

Finals Statistics: 21.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Jaylen Brown was arguably Boston’s most consistent player on both ends of the floor, until Game 5. The All-Star shooting guard was a -19 on the court, shooting only 27.8% from the field while missing all his three-point shots and also turning it over 5 times. Overall, Brown had a nightmare game, which is why the Celtics struggled so much to take Game 5 when they had a great chance to. Because of his poor performance, Brown has fallen from second place to fourth place in the latest Finals MVP rankings. Quite frankly, nobody should have a problem with that.

Jaylen’s willingness to take and make difficult shots while also trying to bail out his team with his aggression can be considered a positive, but it has been a negative at times when he turns the ball over carelessly and doesn’t get foul calls. Oftentimes, Brown is looking for the foul instead of trying to score, something that took away from his importance in Game 5. To his credit, Jaylen has been solid on defense because his wingspan and athleticism have been very solid. But if Brown cannot find a way to stop turning the ball over and start scoring consistently, that won’t matter. The league is about offense these days, and inefficient possessions from Brown could see the Celtics lose a pivotal Game 6 on their home floor. For Celtics fans, Brown must return to his dominant version on offense before it is too late.

3. Jayson Tatum

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Finals Statistics: 23.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 7.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.6 BPG

Jayson Tatum is having a polarizing series because at one point he looks like a superstar only to fall into his bad habits, which leaves Celtics fans frustrated with his play. Tatum is the leading scorer for the Celtics at 23.2 PPG, but he is running away with the turnover lead among all players in the playoffs. In the Finals, Tatum has accumulated 18 turnovers across 5 games, a number that is not indicative of a top-10 player in the game. He is holding his own through improved playmaking and difficult shot-making, but this has not been Tatum’s best series as a whole.

Still, the All-NBA Team performer is the most talented player on the Celtics and the team will only go as far as he can take them. Some might argue that Jaylen Brown is ahead of Tatum in the Finals MVP rankings and that he has played the best basketball for the Celtics, although viewers of Game 5 will beg to differ. Brown was poor while Tatum was one of the few bright spots on offense, leaving the latter third in the Finals MVP race. If Jayson can somehow lead the Celtics to a massive Game 6 victory and even steal Game 7 in San Francisco, he has the best chance on the team to win Finals MVP.

2. Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins

Finals Statistics: 18.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.2 BPG

Andrew Wiggins is leading the Golden State Warriors (and Boston Celtics) in rebounds and has been arguably the most consistent player on both ends of the floor for his team. The former No. 1 overall pick is playing with a type of relaxed confidence that is infectious for the Warriors because he is a consistent scorer and talented athlete that has killed Boston when he has attacked the rim. His three-point shooting has been inconsistent throughout the series, but he is still finding a way to shoot over 45% from the field overall in the first 5 games. His willingness to take and make shots while also defending at an elite level has made Wiggins invaluable.

With Wiggins making up for Draymond Green’s inconsistent play, the Warriors have managed to deal with the adversity of going down 2-1 and eventually gain an impressive 3-2 series lead. Game 5 has to be the best performance of Wiggins’ career because he scored 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, resulting in a +12 when he has been on the court. The athletic swingman is always capable of putting players on posters, but he has made highlights through his defense and scoring in a pivotal Game 5 that has seen him jump to number two on the Finals MVP power rankings.

1. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Finals Statistics: 30.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.0 BPG

No question, Stephen Curry is in the lead for the Finals MVP heading into Game 6. The superstar point guard is averaging 30.6 PPG on 46.6% from the field, 41.7% from the three-point line, and 83.3% from the foul line. Stephen is shooting abnormally low from the stripe because he gets close to 90% throughout his career, although his deep-range shooting and efficiency around the basket are more than making up for that. The Golden State Warriors have needed Curry to be a score-first guard and the most aggressive player in the series because if he does not, they will lose to the Celtics with a banged-up Klay Thompson and an aging Draymond Green unable to produce at All-Star levels anymore.

Stephen has been sensational on offense nonetheless because he has had massive quarters where his three-point shots have been falling consistently. Even in Game 5, when Steph went 0-9 from three, he found ways to be effective, including coming up with 8 assists and also not being a pushover on defense. In the past few games, the Celtics found tremendous success attacking the point guard, but that was not the case in Game 5 as Steph held his own. As we approach Game 6, Curry is well ahead in the race for the Finals MVP award and unless he struggles from the field again over the last two games, the point guard could be the Finals MVP in short order.


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