Andre Iguodala was awarded with the Finals MVP after the 2015 NBA Finals which gave the Golden State Warriors their first NBA Championship since 1975, fourth overall.
Why is Iguodala the most unusual Finals MVP ever
Former Sixers and Nuggets SF Andre Iguodala has been Steve Kerr’s sixth man all year, playing 77 games during the regular season and starting none. He shot 55% for two and 35% for three during the regular season with an eFG% of 54%, while shooting just over 50% from the line, averaging 7.8 PPG. Neither in the first three rounds of the playoffs Iguodala managed to get a start. Warriors’ number nine averaged 8.0 PPG, but shot 44% from the field (32% from downtown) and had a +/- rating of 0.5.
Eventually in the NBA Finals series against LeBron’s Cavaliers, Iguodala shifted gears: Andre got his first -second and third- starts in the whole season, throughout the 6-game series. His +/- average rating of 10.3 was the best among all the Warriors, as Curry and Thompson went only 8.7 and 5.2. Field Goal % rose back up to 52% as he splashed around 40%. Iguodala also registered 16.3 PPG -doubled his regular season avg-, along with 4.0 APG, 5.8 RPG and just 1 TO. Focusing on the last two games of the series, Iguodala played 79 minutes sharing the ball for 12 assists and not one turnover.
These stats are surely unusual for a Finals MVP, in fact Iguodala became the first player in NBA history to win the prize after 0 starts in regular season and first three rounds of the playoffs. Also, Iguodala has become the first Finals MVP ever not to start every game in the Finals series, being benched in games 1, 2 and 3. Last but not least, Iguodala is the 3rd lowest scorer Finals MVP in history: in 1982 Magic Johnson was awarded scoring 16.2 PPG, in 1978 Wes Unseld with 9.0.
Iguodala’s determing defense against James
Of course, Iguodala was honoured mostly because of his great action when guarding LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers reached the 100 points mark only in game-1, thanks to overtime (98-98 in regulation). In game-4, Iguodala’s first start of the season, Cleveland made just 82 points and got outscored by 21. Moreover, LeBron James shot 46% from the field when Iguodala was not defending him, whereas he was forced to 38% when guarded by the Finals MVP. In fact, even though James led the Finals in points, rebounds and assists per game (35.8, 13.3, 8.8), happening to be the first player in NBA history to achieve this goal, Iguodala robbed him of the prize.
So, was Iguodala surprised with the award? Actually, not at all. During the press conference following game-6, a journalist asked the Finals MVP “If I would have told you two weeks ago that you would have been the MVP, what would you have told me?”. Iguodala’s reply was crystal-clear:
“I’m not surprised, because I am confident with my game. I’m not surprised, but I would have bet on Steph, I would have bet on Draymond”