Last year it was Andre Iguodala. Who will it be in the Golden State Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers rematch?
The star of the 2015 NBA Finals was supposed to be Stephen Curry. Or LeBron James. Or Klay Thompson. Or Kyrie Irving. But not Andre Iguodala.
When the dust settled, the former NBA All-Star-turned-role player emerged with Finals MVP honours after helping the Warriors bring home the title in six games.
So who could be this year's Iguodala? There are a few candidates.
Since being acquired by the Cavs via trade in February, Frye has shown the ability to fill it up from time to time. The sweet-shooting big man has hit double figures five times in the post-season, including a 27-point outburst featuring a seven-for-nine performance from three-point range against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round. His three-point shooting will be needed against the high-scoring Warriors.
Barnes has not had a good post-season so far. He is averaging almost three points less than he did in the regular season (8.9 points per game) and shooting just over 40 percent from the field. Barnes is likely due for a big game or two in the Finals. It would benefit him financially as well, as he will be a free agent next month. Whether he stays with the Warriors or goes elsewhere, a good Finals showing could definitely up his value.
Smith has the ability to shoot the Cavs into the game or take them out of it, specifically from the three-point line. He is shooting 46.2 percent from long range in the play-offs, scoring 20 points or more three times in the process. He will be pressed to keep that up while trying to help defend against 'The Splash Brothers'.
We could not leave last season's Finals MVP off this list. Iguodala has not put up big numbers this post-season, but what he does is not always quantifiable. It is making the right switch on the screen. It is forcing Kevin Durant (or James in this series) to take a 15-foot jumper instead of a 10-foot one. More than that, though, he always seems to make a play to energize the team when Curry and Thompson are not in the game or are still searching for their shot. Draymond Green may be the heart of the team, but Iguodala is the Warriors' emotional thermostat.