Skip to main content

Since the NBA Finals MVP was first established in 1969, a total of 34 different players have won the coveted award, the vast majority of whom were taken within the top 20 of the NBA Draft.

In fact, of the 34 players to win NBA Finals MVP, 30 were taken with one of those first 20 slots. And of those 30, 25 were selected in the top 10. And of those 25, eight were taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, the most of any slot.

One could almost argue that number should be nine, as Wilt Chamberlain was selected before the 1959 NBA Draft began as a territorial pick of the Philadelphia Warriors. But as that doesn’t necessarily count as a top selection, we won’t include it in our numbers either. But had he been available, Chamberlain would have undoubtedly gone No. 1.

There’s also one player to win NBA Finals MVP who was technically never selected in the NBA Draft, that being Moses Malone, who was taken with the 28th pick in the 1974 ABA Draft by the Utah Stars. But as the ABA merged with the NBA just two years later, we’ll respect that slot as is.

That, of course, makes Malone one of the four players drafted 20th or later to win NBA Finals MVP, which he did with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. Dennis Johnson, taken with the 29th pick in 1976, was the first non-top-20 player to win the award, doing so with the Seattle Supersonics in 1979. Tony Parker, the 28th overall selection in the 2001 NBA Draft, took home the trophy after leading the San Antonio Spurs to a title in 2007.

And then you’ve got the record holder for the lowest NBA Draft pick to win NBA Finals MVP. Now, not only was this man not taken in the top 30 — he wasn’t even taken in the top 40.

Nikola Jokic is the lowest NBA Draft pick to win NBA Finals MVP

The lowest NBA Draft selection to win NBA Finals MVP, of course, is Nikola Jokic, who was famously taken by the Denver Nuggets with the 41st overall selection in 2014 as a Taco Bell commercial aired on ESPN.

The two-time NBA MVP led the Nuggets to a 53-29 record during the 2022-23 regular season, earning Denver the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Jokic then led the Nuggets to victories over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Phoenix Suns, and the LA Lakers in the NBA Playoffs, giving Denver its first-ever trip to the title series.

And the Serbian superstar certainly made the most of the opportunity, averaging 30.2 points, 14.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.4 blocks en route to winning NBA Finals MVP as the Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat in five games to clinch the franchise’s first NBA title.

Not only was Jokic the lowest draft pick to win the award, but he also became the first player in NBA history to lead all players in points, rebounds, and assists during a single postseason.

Where every NBA Finals MVP was taken in the NBA Draft

Here’s a quick look at where every NBA Finals MVP was selected in the NBA Draft.

PlayerNBA Finals MVP AwardsYear(s) WonNBA Draft Slot
Michael Jordan61991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998No. 3 (1984)
LeBron James42012, 2013, 2016, 2020No. 1 (2003)
Magic Johnson31980, 1982, 1987No. 1 (1979)
Shaquille O’Neal32000, 2001, 2002No. 1 (1992)
Tim Duncan31999, 2003, 2005No. 1 (1997)
Willis Reed21970, 1973No. 8 (1964)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar21971, 1985No. 1 (1969)
Larry Bird21984, 1986No. 6 (1978)
Hakeem Olajuwon21994, 1995No. 1 (1984)
Kobe Bryant22009, 2010No. 13 (1996)
Kevin Durant22017, 2018No. 2 (2007)
Kawhi Leonard22014, 2019No. 15 (2011)
Jerry West11969No. 2 (1960)
Wilt Chamberlain11972Territorial
John Havlicek11974No. 7 (1962)
Rick Barry11975No. 2 (1965)
Jo Jo White11976No. 9 (1969)
Bill Walton11977No. 1 (1974)
Wes Unseld11978No. 2 (1968)
Dennis Johnson11979No. 29 (1976)
Cedric Maxwell11981No. 12 (1977)
Moses Malone11983No. 28 (1974, ABA)
James Worthy11988No. 1 (1982)
Joe Dumars11989No. 18 (1985)
Isiah Thomas11990No. 2 (1981)
Chauncey Billups12004No. 3 (1997)
Dwyane Wade12006No. 5 (2003)
Tony Parker12007No. 28 (2001)
Paul Pierce12008No. 10 (1998)
Dirk Nowitzki12011No. 9 (1998)
Andre Iguodala12015No. 9 (2004)
Giannis Antetokounmpo12021No. 15 (2013)
Stephen Curry12022No. 7 (2009)
Nikola Jokic12023No. 41 (2014)

Ranking Michael Jordan’s 6 NBA Finals Appearances With the Chicago Bulls