He May Not Be Your MVP, But Show Tony Parker Some Respect
Steady. Consistent. Dependable.
These are words that come to mind when a basketball fan is asked about the San Antonio Spurs. Their hard-working, ho-hum attitude on and off the court has become a staple during the Gregg Popovich era, and with their core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli, it has led them to great success including the third highest winning percentage in NBA history among active franchises, the record for most consecutive 50+ win seasons at 13,and four world titles since 1999.
That success doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon, as they sit atop the NBA with the league’s best record (42-11) and are currently on a four game win streak as exit the All-Star break and prepare for yet another deep playoff run.
However, if there has ever been an obstacle this powerhouse franchise hasn’t been able to overcome, it is the stigma that comes with being in a small market. The casual fan turns on ESPN and sees Kevin Durant draining a 3-pointer, or LeBron James terrorizing opposing teams on the fast break. They know about how many 40 point games Carmelo Anthony has, or how Chris Paul made yet another defender look foolish with his superior handling and quickness.
They don’t know that at 30-years of age, Parker is arguably having the best season of his 11-year career.
With over 30,000 career minutes played, Parker is having a marvelous 2013, averaging 21 points, 7.7 assists, and 3 rebounds.His points per game average is its highest since 2009, his 53.5% shooting from the field is his highest since 2006 and his 83% shooting from the free-throw line is a career best.
Per NBA.com/stats, Parker is 4th in points per game among point guards, 6th among guards, and 9th in the league overall.
Those numbers are very, very good in their own right. But what’s really amazing is the tear Parker has currently been on.
In his last 10 games, he has averaged an absurd stat-line of 26.4 points, 9.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 59.4% from the field and 84.5% from the free-throw line. Parker is also boasting a gaudy AST% of 50.5 during his run.
But what’s most eye-opening is his “PIE”, or Player Impact Estimate.
A relatively new statistic created to measure a player’s overall statistical contribution against the total statistics in games they’ve played in, Parker’s has been a ridiculous 20.9% over the last 10 games.To put that into context, LeBron James of the Miami Heat is the league leader in PIE, with a percentage of 21.6%.
These numbers haven’t been coming against cupcakes either. According to TeamRankings.com, as of today, the Spurs have had the 5th toughest schedule in the league. San Antonio still depends greatly on the play-making abilities of Parker, and he hasn’t let them down.
All of this non withstanding, Parker has had the misfortune to have such a great season with LeBron James and Kevin Durant just playing in another stratosphere.
James is a virtual lock for this year’s award, with Durant primed to probably finish with one of the best seasons that a player can have and not win the award, not to mention what Chris Paul is doing in Los Angeles with the once lowly Clippers. This season has been one for the ages and it’s only February.
But with the 2011 season still fresh in many people’s minds; the same one in which the MVP award went to (and some believe undeservedly) Derrick Rose, arguments have been made that a player’s popularity too often factors in to the decision.
If you look at the numbers that season, it’s hard not to agree. Rose averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 44% from the field and 85.8% from the free-throw line. In contrast, LeBron James averaged a noticeably better 26.7 points, 7 assists, and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 51% from the field and 75.9% from the free-throw line.
Was it voter fatigue? A product of a media obsession with Rose’s refreshing humility? Who knows.
Parker won’t win the MVP award this season. Some will feel that his voting to the All-Star game as a reserve is plenty enough recognition, and most will probably not hear about the Spurs again until their seemingly inevitable rematch against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. But make no mistake: Tony Parker is an MVP candidate and playing some incredible basketball.
The least you can do is pay attention.