If the Pistons win it all, who would be named Finals MVP? Could this be the first year the MVP trophy is given to the coach? Or to the entire team?

Finals MVP: Entire Pistons Team?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services  

If the Lakers somehow rally and win it all, then the Finals MVP will clearly be either Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant, or possibly both. There's not much interest there.

But what if the Pistons win it all? Who will the Finals MVP award go to?

Ask most players and they will tell you the most important individual award to win is the Finals MVP. Why? Because it means you're also a champion. Not since the first year or two of the award more than 50 years ago has the Finals MVP been on the losing team. If you were the most valuable player for the championship team, then that's an individual accolade that really means something.

But who would be that player on the Pistons? Take your pick. Usually it would go to the superstar, who is usually distinguishable as the guy playing the most minutes. But there are four Detroit players averaging 40 or more minutes per game: Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince. Not to mention Rasheed Wallace, who if he were to just stay out of foul trouble in the first quarter, would also probably be averaging monster minutes and have his own shot for being the MVP.

Hamilton is the scorer's choice. He's averaging 23 points per game in these Finals, along with 3.3 assists and 7.0 rebounds. He also, however, is averaging 4.7 turnovers per game. He is Detroit's go-to guy and first option: if he is open after multiple screens, get him the ball and let him shoot it. A lot of other opportunities arise when the Lakers have to adjust to ensure Hamilton is not open for a jump shot.

Ben Wallace is the big defender's choice. He is defending Shaq one-on-one, and when he is in the game, the Pistons tend to increase their lead. He's nearly averaging a double-double in the Finals, with 9.3 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Prince is the little defender's choice. He is defending Kobe one-on-one, and holding him to very low output in scoring. He is also an effective scorer, averaging 9.0 points per game to go with 5.7 rebounds. Furthermore, he's getting his hands in all the passing lanes, as he is averaging 2.7 steals per game.

Billups is the distributor's choice. He is simply dominating any point guard that LA puts in his way. He is just below Hamilton in scoring, averaging 22.7 points, to go with 5.3 assists and 3 rebounds. He is the well-rounded choice.

Finally, Rasheed Wallace is averaging 9.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in just under 30 minutes of action, as he has been on the bench for much of the time in the first half because of early foul trouble. He is also just the leading shot-blocker for the Pistons, averaging 1.7 per game. If he can stay out of early foul trouble the remaining games and up his minutes, he could make his own case for Finals MVP.

Who should get it? No matter how good a coach he is, Larry Brown can not earn the Finals MVP trophy because he's not a player. It would have to be one of these starting five.

But could it be all five?

Surely Brown would be ecstatic if his entire team were deemed the most valuable player. In particular, the starting five are, almost by definition, the most valuable players on the team. They start, finish, and play the most minutes.

Could this be the first year the trophy is shared among five players?

Ah, what a nice problem this is. It's like deciding how to spend a billion dollars.

So many decisions!