LeBron James becomes first player to lead NBA Finals in points, rebounds and assists

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Andre Iguodala – fittingly, though not deservedlywon NBA Finals MVP.

Iguodala had an impressive series, the culmination of a stellar and unselfish season. This is no knock on him.

But he doesn’t hold a candle to LeBron James’ production.

The Cavaliers forward became the first player to lead a Finals in points, rebounds and assists – averaging 35.8, 13.3 and 8.8 per game.

Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise LeBron broke that barrier. Nobody had come closer than him in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat.

In 2012, LeBron led the series against the Thunder in rebounds and assists but finished second in points to Kevin Durant. In 2013, LeBron led the series against the Spurs in points and assists but finished third in rebounds to Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard.

To measure how close a player came to leading the Finals in all three major stats, we’ll add the percentage of the leader in each per-game category. So, if a player led the series in a stat, it’s 100%. If he had 30 points per game to the leader’s 40 points per game, that’s 75%. Add the percentage for each category, so a perfect score is 300%.

Before his 300% this year, LeBron had 293% in 2012 and 290% in 2013.

In the years Basketball-Reference.com has Finals data for all three stats (1952, 1955-1958, 1960-2015), 18 players have cracked 250%. Here’s each with the player’s stats/leader’s stats (rank in the series):

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Player Points Rebounds Assists Total
LeBron James (2015 CLE) 35.8/35.8 (1) 100% 13.3/13.3 (1) 100% 8.8/8.8 (1) 100% 300%
LeBron James (2012 MIA) 28.6/30.6 (2) 93% 10.2/10.2 (1) 100% 7.4/7.4 (1) 100% 293%
LeBron James (2013 MIA) 25.3/25.3 (1) 100% 10.9/12.1 (3) 90% 7/7 (1) 100% 290%
Magic Johnson (1987 LAL) 26.2/26.2 (1) 100% 8/10 (3) 80% 13/13 (1) 100% 280%
Larry Bird (1986 BOS) 24/25.8 (3) 93% 9.7/11.8 (2) 82% 9.5/9.5 (1) 100% 275%
Shaquille O’Neal (2001 LAL) 33/35.6 (2) 93% 15.8/15.8 (1) 100% 4.8/6 (4) 80% 273%
Tim Duncan (2003 SAS) 24.2/24.2 (1) 100% 17/17 (1) 100% 5.3/7.8 (2) 68% 268%
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1974 MIL) 32.6/32.6 (1) 100% 12.1/12.1 (1) 100% 5.4/8.3 (3) 65% 265%
Shaquille O’Neal (1995 ORL) 28/32.8 (2) 85% 12.5/12.5 (1) 100% 6.3/8 (3) 79% 264%
Larry Bird (1981 BOS) 15.3/22.2 (3) 69% 15.3/16.3 (2) 94% 7/7 (1) 100% 263%
Michael Jordan (1991 CHI) 31.2/31.2 (1) 100% 6.6/9.4 (6) 70% 11.4/12.4 (2) 92% 262%
Bill Walton (1977 POR) 18.5/30.3 (4) 61% 19/19 (1) 100% 5.2/5.2 (1) 100% 261%
Hakeem Olajuwon (1995 HOU) 32.8/32.8 (1) 100% 11.5/12.5 (3) 92% 5.5/8 (4) 69% 261%
Magic Johnson (1988 LAL) 21.1/22 (3) 96% 5.7/8.9 (6) 64% 13/13 (1) 100% 260%
Scottie Pippen (1992 CHI) 20.8/35.8 (3) 58% 8.3/8.7 (2) 95% 7.7/7.7 (1) 100% 254%
Dwyane Wade (2006 MIA) 34.7/34.7 (1) 100% 7.8/10.8 (5) 72% 3.8/4.7 (2) 81% 253%
George Mikan (1952 MNL) 21.7/21.7 (1) 100% 17.4/17.4(1) 100% 2.4/4.7 (5) 51% 251%
LeBron James (2007 CLE) 22/24.5 (2) 90% 7/11.5 (4) 61% 6.8/6.8 (1) 100% 251%

Of those 18 players, 14 won titles. LeBron in 2015 and 2007, Abdul-Jabbar in 1974 and Shaq in 1995 did not.

Already? Giannis Antetokounmpo says Joel Embiid tried to recruit him to Sixers

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The Greek Freak (now trademarked) Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to be a Buck for a while — he has three fully guaranteed years on his contract after this one, taking him until at least the summer of 2021. At that point, Milwaukee almost certainly will be able to offer him the designated player super max contract that will be hard to turn down. The Greek Freak is going to be in Milwaukee for a long time.

That didn’t stop Joel Embiid, who tried to recruit Antetokounmpo to Sixers during All-Star weekend. Via Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“He told me I should trust the process and come play for Philly,” Antetokounmpo said with a chuckle, drawing a laugh. “That was my reaction — I just laughed.”

Of course, if somewhere down the line Antetokounmpo and Embiid team up some tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist will say “they have been planning this since 2018.”

Embiid probably did this tongue in cheek, but he is fearless about this stuff — remember a couple of summers ago he tried to recruit Kevin Durant through social media.

As for Antetokounmpo and the Sixers, nothing to see here, move along.

Rumor: Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert might not offer LeBron James no-trade clause in next contract

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The Cavaliers’ three deadline-day trades appear to have invigorated LeBron James, but a key issue remains as LeBron’s player option approaches: Dan Gilbert still owns the Cavs.

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“LeBron wants to be in charge of everything, which is what puts him at odds with Dan,” one source said. “Dan wants to be in charge of everything.”

The belief is that Gilbert, having reasserted control after chasing out Griffin, will rebuff James’ request for a no-trade clause, or any other measures that give him leverage. And that will be enough to drive James away.

“Dan Gilbert’s not going to do what it takes to keep him,” the same source predicted. “Not a chance in hell he’s going to give him a no-trade clause, or let him dictate contract terms.”

LeBron’s no-trade clause might have been useful this season. When things got particularly bad in Cleveland, he affirmed he wouldn’t waive it. I doubt the Cavs would have dealt him regardless, but he made it a certainty.

But a no-trade clause was relevant only because LeBron signed a multi-year contract due to salary-cap rules relevant in 2016. With those no longer pertinent, he might go back to the 1+1 deals he first signed in his return to Cleveland. That’d give him an implicit no-trade clause, as those contracts are treated as one-year deals until the option is exercised, and players on one-year contracts who’d have early or full Bird Rights after can veto any trade.

Still, Gilbert taking this stance would matter if LeBron wants to sign long-term. An official no-trade clause would also carry over to LeBron’s next team if he approves a trade or in the second year of a 1+1 if he opts in. The implicit no-trade would not.

That could be enough for LeBron to demand the official no-trade clause – not just for the possibility it’s useful, but to show he can get it. He seems unwilling to give an inch. It’s about respect.

It also might be about stubbornness – both LeBron’s and Gilbert’s. This would be a ridiculous battleground for LeBron’s Cavaliers tenure to end on – just give LeBron whatever contract he wants – but it wouldn’t be the first ridiculous showdown between Gilbert and LeBron.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: I could never see myself playing for Los Angeles

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All-Star Weekend was (at least) an implicit recruiting tool for the Lakers and Clippers. The host teams could show off Los Angeles – the beautiful weather in middle of winter, the nightlife, the glitz and glamour.

LeBron James‘ praise drew the most attention:

I think L.A. is a perfect place to host All-Star Weekend. It’s one of the few cities that we have in our league that can accommodate all of this. And when I mean all of this, you have over 200-plus countries that’s covering the game. You’ve got so many people from all over the world coming to watch our game and just be a part of All-Star Weekend. And we know the traffic. We understand that. But traffic is traffic and — but L.A. can accommodate that. It’s built for stars. It’s built for entertainment. It’s built for cameras and bright lights, and it’s a great place for it.

Of course, we already knew LeBron was partial to Los Angeles. He has a house there.

But not every All-Star raved about the city.

Bucks forward Antetokounmpo, via Matt Velazquez Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“I could never see myself being out there,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s great for two, three days but it’s a little bit — things are going a little bit crazy.

“Of course, because of the All-Star Game, there was a lot of people there. … In Milwaukee — I love Milwaukee — it’s low-key. I can walk down the road, down the streets without anybody bugging me — nobody interrupts my conversation or anything. I love how quiet and calm Milwaukee is.”

The Bucks ought to appreciate this outlook. Antetokounmpo once said he wanted to stay with them forever, and – as rumors swirled about his future in Milwaukee, he tweeted, “I got loyalty inside my DNA.” But he has since explained how important it is for a team to do right by its star player, supporting him with a winning supporting cast.

Maybe Antetokounmpo will eventually leave the Bucks, but it seems unlikely that’d be just to reach a bigger market. Milwaukee can’t change its location. The Bucks can somewhat control whether they put a winner around Antetokounmpo.

Still, other teams will try to poach Antetokounmpo – like Joel Embiid‘s 76ers. Antetokounmpo, via Velazquez:

“He told me I should trust the process and come play for Philly,” Antetokounmpo said with a chuckle, drawing a laugh. “That was my reaction — I just laughed.”

PBT Podcast: What to watch during stretch run of season

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Are the Cleveland Cavaliers for real? And by “real” do you mean best in the East or threat to Warriors?

Who is going to make the playoffs in the West? Is Utah going in? Portland? The Los Angeles Clippers?

Is James Harden going win MVP? Is it Ben Simmons or Donovan Mitchell for Rookie of the Year?

Those are just some of the storylines as the NBA races down the stretch run of the season (most teams have around 25 games left). Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break down all the things to watch from the end of the season, including if Detroit can climb up into the postseason, and how the top of the East is going to shake out.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.