Who are the Finals MVP Front-Runners?

Jun 5, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) reacts to a play during the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game two of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 5, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) reacts to a play during the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game two of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Golden State Warriors are up 2-0 in the NBA Finals, which has us thinking: Who is the early front-runner for Finals MVP?

After sweating things out for seven games in the Western Conference Finals a couple of weeks ago, things have come much easier for the Golden State Warriors during the NBA Finals. This year’s rematch was slated to be even more competitive than last year’s Finals, particularly because the Cleveland Cavaliers are much healthier this time around than they were last season.

If we think about the situation logically, of course the Cavs would be better with two of their three stars (Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving) back in the lineup this year. One would think that if the series went six games last year, a seven game series might be in store, or perhaps an easy Cavalier victory.

Through two games that has been anything but the case. The Warriors have blitzed out to a 2-0 series lead, and have the biggest point differential (+48) through two games of an NBA Finals in league history.

The story of the two games has been vastly different, however. Game one saw Golden State’s bench, outscoring Cleveland’s 45-10. Shaun Livingston alone had a team high 20 points off the bench, shooting a cool 80 percent from the field. This was also a game where Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to score just 20 points, and shoot a dismal 29.6 percent. Nevertheless, the Warriors still won by 15.

In Game two, the Splash Brothers still weren’t stand outs, but did pitch in a bit more. Curry and Thompson scored 18 and 17 respectively, and collectively shot much better, hitting 54 percent of their shots. The story of the game though, was the big night from Draymond Green. He tallied 28 points, grabbed seven boards, and dished out five assists, beating Cleveland with his 5-for-8 performance from behind the arc.

Now that leaves us wondering: Who is the front runner for MVP going in to Game three on Wednesday night? Lets take a look at the candidates.

One thing that has become clear is that this NBA Finals has been much different than anyone expected. Coming in, a lot of people thought this would be highly competitive, but that has not been the case, but the series is far from over.

Livingston was the story after game one after his 20 point performance. He followed up that big night with a modest seven points in game two, but was still highly effective with the shots he did take, going 3-for-4. After game one, Livingston was definitely at the top of MVP discussions, but with his series average sitting at 13.5 points, four assists, and 78.6 percent field goal percentage, he may now be a long shot to take home the hardware.

Another player who had a stand out performance in game one off of the bench was last year’s Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala. Andre took home the award after being inserted in the starting lineup after game three in last year’s finals. This time around, he is likely to stay on the bench, but he continues to fill up the stat sheet. In game one, he chipped in 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and was good for six assists. Definitely a well-rounded performance, but is that Finals MVP worthy? His work on the defensive end of the floor is where he has really had a major impact. Tasked with guarding LeBron James for a majority of the night, Iguodala has come up with countless strips and even more highly contested looks for the King. In game two alone, Andre was LeBron’s final defender 17 times. In those instances, LeBron shot 1-for-3, and had 7 turnovers.

Although he had a personal game to forget in game one of this series, Stephen Curry is a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode for 40+ points and 8+ threes on any given night.

For that very reason, he has to remain in MVP discussions. Cleveland has based a majority of their defensive premise on stopping Curry as well as Thompson, which is part of the reason both had poor night’s in game one while the rest of the team went off. For the series, Curry is currently averaging 14.5 points, five assists, and an impressive seven rebounds. He is also shooting a solid 42 percent from the field and nearly 44 percent from three. He could easily bounce back and have great performances in the Warriors’ last two prospective wins.

Thompson, who’s just as explosive, can go off at any moment. He too had a poor performance in game one, and while he was much better in game two, he wasn’t the stand out guy. He is averaging 13 points per game and shooting 40 percent from the field this series.

Last up, we have the guy who is probably in the lead for Finals MVP after two games. There are still at least two games to be played, but Draymond Green has been the most consistent Warrior this June.

After a modest 16 point performance in game one, Green exploded for 28 points in game two. He put in five three pointers as well, and is shooting 50 percent from deep for the series. Green is averaging 22 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in two games, and has definitely had the stand out performance thus far. For Green to take home this year’s Finals MVP award, it’ll take the same consistent performances we have been seeing from him all year. He is not one to constantly be the high point man, but if he could continue to shoot a good percentage while filling up the stat sheet, he should be the favorite heading forward.

Next: Warriors: Key Factors to Winning in Cleveland

While both Curry and Thompson haven’t had great series’ so far, I still would put them at second and third respectively on the short list of Finals MVP front-runners. All it will take for them is to have two games that overshadow a Green performance.

The great thing about this team, however, is they don’t care who ends up winning. All they care about is winning their second straight NBA Championship. Two wins are down, and there are two more to go, however, the work is far from over.