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Point/Counterpoint: Can a player who loses the finals win series MVP?

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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Yes

LeBron James is the best player in the world — bar none. And as difficult as it may be for some people to accept, it’s the flat-out truth.

He can play any position and is asked to do virtually everything for his team. He can facilitate to the point to which players such as Matthew Dellavedova look like all-stars. He can, and did in the 2015 finals, carry an extremely heavy scoring load. He is one of the best defenders in the league and demands a high defensive standard from his teammates.

And because we’re talking about the most valuable player to his respective team, the answer is never not LeBron — this series was the epitome of that sentiment.

We all know the Cavaliers were without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, leaving LeBron with one legitimate but streaky scoring partner in J.R. Smith and then whatever the rest of the team could provide.

Defensively, Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert, and Tristan Thompson gave James a legitimate defensive supporting cast.

The only problem is that they were battling the league’s top, most-loaded offense, leaving the under-manned Cavs with a tall order.

And they had no choice but to lean heavily on LeBron to match Golden State’s firepower.

The man’s numbers entering Game 6 (36.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 8.4 assists) speak for themselves. He had two triple-doubles in five games, people, and nearly another one in Game 6. C’mon.

When Cleveland scores, James is more than likely putting the ball in the hoop or assisting someone who does — and doing so against the league’s most efficient defense of 2015.

Look at it this way. Take any given player away from Golden State, and it still had a legitimate shot at winning the series. Take LeBron off the Cavs, and this is a team that would struggle to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference (cough, cough, Miami Heat).

I rest my case.

— Charlie Green

No

We are truly all witnesses. Let’s start there; LeBron is the best player on the planet right now and may well be on his way to being the greatest of all time. Regardless, the notion that he could be the Finals MVP on a losing team is a farce.

Again, let’s look at what LeBron has done. He averaged 36.6 points per game, 12.4 rebounds, and 8.4 assists heading into last night’s game. However, while I would defend the merits of his 32 shot attempts per game from a strategic standpoint, because he is far and away the best offensive option the Cavs have at this point, he was shooting below 40 percent from the field.

So while LeBron’s numbers adequately reflect his dominance in this series, whether it’s his fault or a credit to the Warrior defense, the missed shots and losses are piling up. Surely there’s been a more deserving performer for Golden State, which didna’t exactly cruise through the series.

Besides the obvious choice — Steph Curry, the reigning MVP averaging 26 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds on more than 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc — consider the man largely being tasked with taking on LeBron himself, Andre Iguodala.

Draymond Green was expected to log significant time defending LeBron, but Iguodala picked up the slack when Green got off to a slow start in the series, and Iguodala came alive in the two games after the Warriors went down 2-1. His 22 points sparked the offense in a pivotal Game 4, and his near triple-double was a stabilizing force in Game 5.

Not to mention, somebody gets the credit for LeBron’s woeful shooting percentage, right?

LeBron couldn’t carry his team to victory in this series — he may have been dominant, and he may have been valuable — but especially with worthy candidates on the championship-winning team, he was quite obviously not valuable enough.

— Kyle Mann


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