Although two of the four 2nd round series have already gotten underway in the 2016 NBA Playoffs, with the first round officially ending Sunday night I thought it was an appropriate time to recap with the 1st round of playoff action with some postseason MVP rankings.
An award I feel as though the NBA should actually hand out at the end of the postseason, but never never will as no professional sport really does.
For instance, in my opinion this is who should have received the award in eery postseaosn since 2000:
2015: LeBron James
2014: LeBron James
2013: LeBron James
2012: LeBron James
2011: Dirk Nowitzki
2010: Kobe Bryant
2009: Dwight Howard
2008: Kevin Garnett
2007: Tim Duncan
2006: Dwyane Wade
2005: Tim Duncan
2004: Shaquille O’Neal
2003: Tim Duncan
2002: Shaquille O’Neal
2001: Kobe Bryant
2000: Shaquille O’Neal
So by my count and opinion, LeBron should have won this the past four postseasons, either winning the title or dragging a limping team to the NBA Finals, Tim Duncan and Shaq each have three since the year 2000 and Kobe Bryant has two.
Here are my top five rankings for this award after Round 1, it must be noted that any players eliminated from the postseason in Round 1 are disqualified from contention for this hypothetical award, sorry Isaiah Thomas and Paul George.
Postseason Stats: PPG: 19.0 AST: 5.4 REB: 5.0 FG% 47.1 3P% 66.7 FT% 79.2 PER: 22.1
Take note that Wade is two for three from downtown this postseason, he didn’t just suddenly develop a three-point shot. He has been extremely clutch for the Heat though, as the banged up 34-year-old is still the heart of this Heat organization and when the Heat need a biog bucket they know who to go to. After letting a 2-0 series lead vanish and falling down 3-2 to Charlotte, Wade took over in Game 6 in Charlotte with 23-6-4 and scoring one big bucket after another in the closing minutes to send their series to a Game 7. If the Heat can make it to the conference for a potential showdown with LeBron, it will be a result of Wade’s leadership and sheer will.
Postseason Stats: PPG: 27.5 AST: 4.8 REB: 2.3 STL: 1.3 FG% 47.1 3P% 47.1 FT% 75 PER: 27.6
After an underwhelming regular season while slowly recovering from his knee injury, Irving has come out guns blazing in Round 1 of the postseason. He is the leading scorer at this point and shot an obscene 47% from downtown in Round 1. He also showed much more effort and tenacity defending Reggie Jackson and may be making the leap to a superstar caliber player. Let’s see if he keeps it up in Round 2 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Postseason Stats: PPG: 25.7 REB: 4.3 AST: 3.7 FG% 45.9 3P% 45.6 FT% 83.9 PER: 24.3
Thompson has taken the mantle as alpha dog for the Warriors and ran with it in Steph Curry’s absence. Thompson has basically averaged 29-4-3 without Curry thus far this postseason and had an incredible Game 1 of their 2nd round series with the Blazers Sunday, scoring 37 points on 50% shooting.
This is impressive stuff for Thompson who actually struggled a bit last postseason en route to their title. He has shown he can be the lead scorer for this team and help them advance to the western conference finals again without Curry.
Postseason Stats: PPG: 22.8 REB: 9.0 AST: 6.8 STL: 1.5 FG% 48.7 3P% 21.1 FT% 73 PER: 23.2
LeBron is continuing to do LeBron things in the postseason, getting to the rim at will, setting the table for others, defending at a high level and generally elevating the play of his teammates. He seems to have lit a fire under Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and is allowing them to take over more of the scoring responsibilities while he puts them in positions to succeed. He has been the best postseason performer we have seen since Jordan and the 2016 postseason appears to be no different.
Postseason Stats: PPG: 22.2 REB: 4.8 AST: 2.2 STL: 2.2 BLK: 2.2 FG% 57 3P% 60 FT% 95.5
Kawhi Leonard continues to rapidly develop into an evolved, scarier version of Scottie Pippen and is legitimately in the discussion for the best pure player in the NBA today. He is shooting an outrageous 57% from the field and 60% from three in five postseason games while dominating on the defensive end (he held Durant to 16 points in Game 1) and has a ridiculous Player Efficiency Rating of 37.7 thus far.
If the Spurs keep steamrolling like they have this postseason, Leonard could be in line for his 2nd NBA Finals MVP award before the age of 25.