I was recently going through the list of the greatest NBA finals performances in the history of the league and noticed that many people disagree with it. Precisely, they disagree with Dwyane Wade being ranked the first on the list, while some other great finals performances are not even within the top 10.
Honestly, I was surprised when I saw Wade on the first spot. “Flash” had an astonishing series against the Mavericks in 2006, but I couldn’t believe that he performed better than some all-time greats, such as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant.
Note that all performances on the list are ranked by PER (Player Efficiency Rating) and during 2006 finals, Wade had a mind-blowing 33.8 PER. The second-best on the list is Tim Duncan’s finals performance in which he managed to achieve 32 PER which is, in terms of PER calculation, significantly worse than the PER Wade achieved during his golden year.
For those of you who are not familiar with PER, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia :
“PER takes into account positive accomplishments, such as field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, and negative ones, such as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. The formula adds positive stats and subtracts negative ones through a statistical point value system. The rating for each player is then adjusted to a per-minute basis so that, for example, substitutes can be compared with starters in playing time debates. It is also adjusted for the team’s pace. In the end, one number sums up the players’ statistical accomplishments for that season.”
During his NBA finals against the Phoenix Suns, Michael Jordan averaged 41 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game…and yes, you read that right. However, his PER was only 27.6 which was good enough for the 14th position on the list. His performance from 1998 finals where he averaged 33.5 points and “only” 4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while converting 42.7% of his shots has a PER of 30.8 and is on the sixth spot on the list.
I will compare Wade’s 2006 finals performance and Jordan’s 1993 performance to clarify why Jordan’s performance wasn’t better than Wade’s. Posting 41-8-6 averages seems impossible, but not for Michael Jordan. And while it looks astonishing, there is a whole new story behind those numbers.