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FiveThirtyEight said Kevin Durant would've won Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP award in 2012

Thunder Wire logo Thunder Wire 5/27/2022 Clemente Almanza
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Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry won the inaugural Magic Johnson Western Conference finals MVP award after his team defeated the Dallas Mavericks in five games to move on to their sixth NBA Finals appearance in eight years. The conference finals MVP award was introduced by the NBA this season, and the Eastern Conference finals version is named after Larry Bird.

With a new award comes hypothetical debates on who would’ve won it in previous seasons. FiveThirtyEight’s Mike Lynch tackled this thought exercise in an article by handing out the award for all of the conference finals in league history. He did so by looking through the average game score of players throughout the entirety of the series.

“To award retroactive conference finals MVPs, I first needed to settle on a consistent metric. After some experimentation, John Hollinger’s Game Score seemed like the best fit in terms of matching voter intuition (by rewarding players who dominate the box score) and availability (it can be applied to any complete box score since player turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78 and can still provide useful direction when some less essential statistics are missing). One important thing to note about Game Score is that a score of 10 is indicative of an average, run-of-the-mill game, while 40 is legendary. Across a series, an average Game Score north of 20 is very good and 25 is great, while over 30 for a full series is nearly unheard of. “

The only Thunder player who would’ve won a conference finals MVP under this formula is Kevin Durant in 2012, with a 25.7 average score. The Thunder defeated the San Antonio Spurs in six games to make their way into the 2012 NBA Finals.

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