Kawhi Leonard had just about as perfect a post-season as you’re ever going to see last season, culminating, of course, with an NBA championship and the second Finals MVP award in his career in his lone season with the Toronto Raptors.
If there is one thing to nitpick about that run though, it would be his Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy, or rather, the way he won it.
Leonard earned Finals MVP support from all 11 members of the voting media, with the exception of longtime ESPN colour commentator and two-time NBA coach of the year Hubie Brown, who elected to give his nod to Fred VanVleet.
“He did an incredible job for you offensively, but more importantly, he took (Steph) Curry out of the left corner in the key wins and that alone should’ve gotten incredible ink from guys that were witnessing the game and writing about the games,” said Brown, explaining his reasoning on Sportsnet 590 the FAN’s Writers Bloc on Tuesday.
“He was able to hold Curry down in shot attempts and field-goal percentage, and then also turn him over a number of critical times.”
Watch Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, Nov. 11, on Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE. Coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT.
In the Finals, VanVleet averaged 14 points per game and shot 40 per cent from deep on 6.7 attempts, but, as Brown noted, his true MVP-like value came from what he offered Toronto on the defensive side of the ball, holding the Golden State Warriors’ Curry to just 41.4 per cent shooting in the six-game series.
“A lot of times, key defence is overlooked in the pressurized ending of the great games,” said Brown. “Could you stop their best guy who had to do it for them at that time because no (Kevin) Durant and no (Klay0 Thompson? This young man stepped up and did it, and laid it out there physically before you. So I thought that he should be mentioned.”
Hubie Brown explains why FVV got his NBA Finals MVP vote
November 05 2019
Your browser does not support the
You can listen to Brown’s entire appearance on Writers Bloc in the player above where, among other topics, he also discussed Pascal Siakam’s apparent foul-trouble problem.