There has finally been some clamoring in the media for discussion of Tony Parker in the MVP race, with NBA.com's MVP Ladder finally adding him to the list after keeping him off of it for the entire season (he leapfrogged six people to land at the fourth spot), and Jeff Van Gundy speaking during the Heat-Lakers game to fight for TP to be noticed in the nationwide MVP race. Those that have been following the Spurs for these past few years, have seen this team transform from Tim Duncan's team (with Manu Ginobili taking over in clutch situations), to firmly Tony Parker's team, the engine that runs the train, especially on the offensive side of things. Showing off for the national audience, Tony poured in 29 points, shooting 57% and with only 4 free throws, a low number for a point guard who drives into the hoop the most in the league, according to the STATS LLC statistics taken from this recent Grantland article, definitely takes a beating and probably doesn't get the necessary amount of free throws he deserves. He had 3 rebounds and 11 assists, easily outplaying Deron Williams (1 rebound, 3 assists) while guiding the team to a second-half beatdown of the Nets this Sunday. These past 10 games, he has averaged 24.9 points, 9.3 assists, 3.3 rebouds and a steal a game, while only averaging 34 minutes, 56th in the league and 19th amongst point guards, less than Chris Paul, Greivis Vasquez, Kyrie Irving and even GEORGE HILL. He's 11th in scoring overall, and shoots 53%, second highest amongst the top 11, only second to Mr. Lebron James (shooting a crazy 56%). Tony's scoring per 48 minutes is 9th overall, showing how efficient he is with the more limited minutes he gets compared to other superstars at his level, such as Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard with 38.5 and and Stephen Curry at 37.7. Parker has been able to use his time on the court to run the Spurs efficiently, which is clearly shown by anyone watching any Spurs game. With Tony as the leader and initiator of the offense, the Spurs run smoothly, as the defense must respect his ability to drive and attack the basket, leaving our three point shooters (Danny, Kawhi or Matty) wide open out on the perimeter and Timmy with a shot at the elbow or from the top of the key. With anyone else at the helm, be it Gary Neal, Patty Mills or Nando De Colo, the team runs choppy and once thought simple pick and roll plays with TP at the head become difficult to run and forces bad shots at the end of shot clocks.
Tony is having a second straight career year, averaging more than 20 points a game, his second highest ever, but is shooing more efficiently, at a higher clip from field goal and 3 point land (39% to 29%), even averaging an extra assist and the same amount of turnovers. If one looks at advanced statistics, he has a 24 PER, 7th highest in the league (Timmy is 5th, with nearly 25) better than All-Stars Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving (again with fewer minutes than all), Oh and he's led the Spurs to the best record in the league, winning 12 of the past 13, with more than half of them without Manu and/or Timmy out with injuries, and being the focal point of defensive schemes night in and night out. He's been especially effective on the RRT, averaging over 30 points per game, shooting 56% from the field and averaging 9 assists a game, while only having 3 turnovers in total. In order to win on the road consistently, the Spurs will need Tony to be playing at an MVP level, and if 30 and 9 isn't MVP level, I don't know what is.
Stats from espn.com