TSFJ Roundtable: Should LeBron James Win The NBA Finals MVP In A Loss?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've undoubtedly been bombarded with the debate du jour: Should LeBron James win the 2015 NBA Finals MVP even if his Cleveland Cavaliers lose to the Golden State Warriors?

Well, we here at The Sports Fan Journal had a lively discussion on the topic ourselves, and here's where we stand…

Josh: All things considered, LeBron is approaching series MVP even in a losing effort status.

Ed: He’s already there.

Matt: LeBron should be MVP.

Joe: I'd vote for LeBron, and I tend to agree mostly that the MVP should go to someone on the winning team.

Matt: This series is a dream scenario for fronting out biases.

Phillip: I disagree that LeBron should win MVP in a losing effort.

Matt: I think that there are exceptions against any standard set. And this is one of them. Imagine if Bron had cracked his knee instead of Kyrie. This would be a massacre. Instead it could go the distance. Because of one Kryptonian.

Dillon: Is it Finals MVP or Playoff MVP? Hockey is playoffs.

Joe: Finals.

Matt: Finals.

Dillon: Then Steph is probably the leader in the clubhouse.

Phillip: He’s undoubtedly made this an interesting series, but value is only worth so much if it leads to wins.

Joe: I'm just using my eyes — and he's been the best player on the floor every single game, and easily the player who both won the two games for the Cavs and the reason the other games were even close at all.

Carden: Bron's gotta be MVP.

Phillip: James is easily the best player in this series, and if we’re defining value based on who is providing the entertainment, then it’s Bron. But it’s hard for me to place entertainment value over wins.

Matt: I think it's the competitive value. It's taken 10 Warriors to stop his singular effort. Sometimes they've succeeded; sometimes they haven't. Mostly, they've just survived or endured him. This is a 60-win team hanging on for its life against one man.

Joe: I'm usually with Phil, on losing guy can't win, except, I mean, really, honestly, watch these games and tell me he's not more valuable in this specific series than anyone else. Steph is great, but he's had nowhere near the game-to-game, minute-to-minute effect on this series as Bron has.

Joe: What Matt said. For goodness sake … LeBron made people think for a couple games that Matthew Dellavedova was actually NBA good. That's MVP-worthy in and of itself.

Phillip: I don't know, man. I’m thinking about this economically. If value is a commodity, James’ value has a ceiling. He can give you all the numbers in the world, but he can’t give you wins. And wins are what the people want, not triple-doubles.

Joe: What does that even mean? Bron's ceiling is higher than anyone's … but he's going against a great team with an average cast around him. His team's ceiling is lower, but that's not due to anything he can control at all.

Dillon: Essentially, the Cavs' 100% is not equal to the Warriors'.

Matt: This is where Wins Above Replacement is so awesome.

Matt: LeBron's would be Ruthian right now.

Dillon: LeBron is the most valuable player in this series, but specific to the outcome Curry is the most valuable as we saw (Sunday) night. Thank you, bitches.

Joe: Mainly because I completely understand and usually agree that the MVP should be from the winning team, but there's always exceptions.

Dillon: Ron Hextall, though.

Matt: There's also the case that LeBron's effort is so tremendous that it is skewing the idea of what an MVP on the winning team really looks like.

Phillip: What do you mean, Matt?

Matt: So there could be a legit MVP candidate on the Warriors, but it just doesn't seem as clear because LeBron's effort has been so awe-inspiring, regardless of outcome. He's making a difference in making Warrior efforts look less impressive than they should be considered.

Dillon: Right, Matt.

Phillip: I mean, Steph is averaging 26/5/5 while shooting 41% from three. Outside of those 1.5 games when Steph couldn’t hit a damn thing, he’s been damn good.

Dillon: Right, Phillip. Who's been the best player on the floor all six games?

Matt: Exactly. Steph is doing that, but it still looks like "meh" level returns because LeBron is averaging NBA Jam-level numbers.

Phillip: I mean, Bron had one bad game, too. 20 points on 7/22 shooting. It’s not like the dude has been perfect. He’s been a crazy volume scorer and rebounding against a small lineup.

Joe: Here's a bigger question: If Andre Iguodala isn't on the Warriors, are the W's even winning this series right now? If Dellavedova isn't on the Cavs, I'm guessing there's very little difference in the series so far.

Phillip: If the next best defender is guarding Steph this series, I’d say Steph’s numbers are much higher, and he doesn’t struggle in Games 2/3. I wouldn’t understate his effectiveness in those two games. I mean, I wouldn’t overstate them, either. But he did make a clear difference. And did as a defender this whole post season.

Joe: I love Steph by the way.

Matt: Also.

Joe: And I'd probably vote for him honestly. But I kinda think Bron should win it.

Matt: Is Klay Thompson still alive?

Jason: Joe, to answer the Igoudala question, no.

Jason: Is Andrew Bogut still alive?

Phillip: Klay’s been having a weird postseason.

Johnathan: It hasn't taken 10 warriors. Whether or not Cleveland wins/is in the game has depended on how and when Curry shoots.

Joe: Yeah, there is that … if Steph makes shots, the Warriors win.

Johnathan: LeBron has put his finger- and footprints on four of the five games. Yet when Curry asserts himself, he and the Cavs are way overmatched.

Joe: There is no wrong answer. Well, except for James Jones.

Matt: Klay is 4-16 from 3 since Game 2.

Johnathan: Like I said before, LeBron being a demigod makes the games competitive. That's value of entertainment. But Steph is the MVP.

Phillip: I think if you can reduce this series to the phrase "if Steph makes shots, the Warriors win,” that makes him the most valuable, no?

Johnathan: Despite LeBron having the second best Finals I've ever seen.

Matt: Next to Tyronn Lue in '01?

Joe: Can't argue with that, Phil. I'm great at ruining my own stance!

Josh: Makes sense, but I still disagree. The fact that the Cavs have lost their 2nd and 3rd best players and have still won 2 games and given the Warriors all they can handle and more pretty much soley on Lebron's herculean effort makes him the MVP to me. And I do agree that 99.9% of the time MVP should come from the winning team.

Matt: To me, it's the fact that Steph and the Warriors are doing what they are supposed to be doing but not achieving same degree of ease that would be expected because LeBron has the Cavs playing far above the level they should be because of his effort. That's value defined for me.

Phillip: I think this: "But not achieving same degree of ease that would be expect” has just as much to do with how they’re defending as a team as what LeBron is doing.

Matt: But I also would probably say Paul Goldschmidt is the NL MVP right now too. And the Diamondbacks are ass.

Phillip: If the Warriors come out and score 110/game like they did in previous series and all season, then LeBron's numbers probably don’t hit as hard because the game isn’t as close. But the Cavs have been phenomenal on defense. The team has kept the Warriors close enough to where LeBron’s numbers are impactful.

Matt: And a lot of that defense is LeBron-enabled as well. I think that's a part of the picture that is being missed in context of the offensive numbers too. Not to say that YOU are missing it, Phillip. My basketball eye is shallow compared to yours. These are all purely my second-tier takes on it.

Phillip: I think LeBron’s been advantageous defensively but has been far from their best defender — spending most of his time on Draymond/Iggy/HB, guys who aren’t going to score a lot regardless. He’s been excellent picking off passes and ending defensive possessions on the boards, but it’s been a total team effort there. You can split those shares pretty damn evenly.

Phillip: What’s pretty interesting on LeBron/defense. His 4th-quarter numbers are terrible. Totally understandable because he’s literally doing everything, but no one has been a worse defender in the 4th.

Johnathan: How much of that formula is tied into open Iguodala threes because Cleveland won't rotate to him? Because I'd live with Iguodala jumpers.

Phillip: Solid point, Johnathan. I can remember two shots from Game 5's 4th-quarter where Bron was responsible for a corner 3 he clearly didn’t give a single fuck about, and that was probably the design of the defense.

So … we all agree to disagree. LeBron is the MVP, but he's not the MVP. Thankfully, we have at least one more game to see who truly passes the test. In the meantime, what do you all think? Who's your 2015 NBA Finals MVP thus far, and why? Let us know in the comments.

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