Is Parker the New MVP Frontrunner?
Going head-to-head against fellow MVP Candidate Chris Paul in Los Angeles while the Clippers were riding a 4-game winning streak (albeit all before the All-Star Break), Parker absolutely lit up the stage. He finished with 31 points on 12-16 FGs and 7-7 FTs, while dishing out 7 assists and not turning the ball over a single time. Just as a means of comparison, Paul finished with 4 points on 1-6 FGs, 3 assists and 3 turnovers.
What else has Parker done this season? Coming off a disheartening playoff loss the Thunder, we all wondered whether the Spurs would finally drop down the standings. Of course we should have all known better. Yet with both Ginobili and Duncan missing time – and neither playing at the top of their games – the Spurs have relied on their point guard to maintain the top spot in the NBA standings. Making the full conversion from Duncan’s sidekick to the Spurs leader, Tony Parker has elevated his game to an elite level.
Parker has never been the type of guy that posts jaw-dropping numbers. He’s never averaged 8 assists or more per game throughout a season and only once before this year has he averaged over 20 points (22 per game in 2009). He’s always been a resourceful point guard (career 49.5% FGs) that never buckles under pressure and knows how to frustrate defenses when he’s at his best – something the Clippers can surely attest to after last night and 2012’s 4-game sweep in the second round.
This year, however, Parker has the numbers to back up his MVP run: 21.2 points per game, 7.7 assists, 53.9% FGs (ridiculous for a point guard!), and a career best 83.5% FTs.
Now if we go head-to-head with just numbers, both LeBron James and Kevin Durant undoubtedly come up ahead of Parker. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and James Harden could all be in the discussion as well with strong finishes to the year, but as of right now, none of the other candidates lead a team with a 44-12 record.
There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, but if the season ended right now, Parker would have my vote for the league’s MVP, and more importantly he has the vote of our favorite TNT anchor, so what’s more important than that?