Kawhi Leonard one vote from being the unanimous NBA Finals MVP
Kawhi Leonard is a deserving winner of Finals MVP. He averaged 28.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game against the Golden State Warriors, fighting through dogged individual defense from the likes of Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson en route to 60.2 percent true shooting – the mark of elite efficiency. The Toronto Raptors superstar was a major factor on defense, too, especially away from the ball, and led his team in points, rebounds, and steals.
One voter for the Bill Russell Finals NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award, though, thought one of Leonard’s teammates would have been a more worthy winner. ESPN broadcasting legend and former NBA head coach Hubie Brown was the only one of 11 media members receiving a ballot to cast his vote for a player other than Leonard, instead choosing Raptors reserve guard Fred VanVleet.
NBA Finals MVP voting results. Kawhi was a Hubie Brown vote away from being unanimous. pic.twitter.com/A0sGNchSBg
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 14, 2019
VanVleet came off the bench in every game of the NBA Finals, but nevertheless emerged as a bellwether for his team’s success. The former second-round pick was by far his team’s best defender of Steph Curry, and drained big shot after big shot with the shot clock running down throughout this series, en route to averaging 14.0 points per game while leading Toronto in threes and shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. VanVleet was especially good in Game 6, too, scoring a playoff-high 22 points and nailing five triples.
VanVleet was absolutely integral to the Raptors winning their first ever championship. But as the final voting tally made clear, Leonoard is the rightful Finals MVP.