According to a release via NBA.com, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker has been named Western Conference Player of the Month. This comes after Parker averaged 21.9 points and 7.9 assists on 56.3 percent shooting from the floor.
Unfortunately, Parker will never earn the MVP respect he deserves.
During his 11-year career, Parker has become one of the most decorated point guards of all time. He's a three-time NBA champion, the 2007 Finals MVP and a five-time All-Star.
Unfortunately, Parker has never won an MVP award. It's becoming clear that he never will.
Perhaps most important of all, Parker isn't the caliber scorer of Kevin Durant or athlete of Derrick Rose.
What Parker has proven to be, however, is one of the league's elite game managers. Judging by the results, he happens to be the best in said area.
The Spurs are an NBA-best 38-11. They finished 2011-12 with the best record in the league, as well.
As for Parker, he's presently averaging 20.1 points and 7.6 assists per game. He's also posting a slash line of .534/.396/.808 and a Player Efficiency Rating of 23.51.
So why isn't the best player on the best team the league MVP?
Best of the Best
The San Antonio Spurs have won 60 of the past 72 regular season games that Parker has been in the rotation.
In 2012-13, the Spurs are currently 38-11. They're a full 2.0 games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA.
By the logic of "the best player on the best team," that makes Tony Parker the NBA MVP.
In 2011, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose won MVP as the best player on the league's top regular season team. In 2009 and 2010, such a trend continued when LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the league's top record.
In 2007, Dirk Nowitzki won league MVP on the NBA-best Dallas Mavericks.
In the previous two seasons, Parker has led the Spurs to the top seed in the Western Conference. In 2011-12, San Antonio finished with the best record in the NBA.
“He’s their best player,” Dudley said. “He’s their best offensive threat. He knows their offense. If they don’t have him, I know the Spurs are always good, but they can’t win without him.”
No matter how deep their roster may be, Dudley is right. The Spurs would not even flirt with their present level of success without Parker running the show.
So why isn't Parker garnering MVP respect?
A Master of the Clutch
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Tony Parker ranks seventh in fourth quarter and overtime field goals at 82. The difference between the Top 10 is that Parker is shooting 54.7 percent in said situations.
Parker has also made 50 percent of his clutch three-pointers (via Basketball-Reference).
Furthermore, Parker is fourth at 48 field goals with 5:00 or less remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime. He's shooting 54.5 percent during those situations, which is again the best of any player in the Top 10.
For perspective, Kevin Durant sits at 46.4 percent with just four more field goals made.
With this being established, why aren't we talking about Parker as a primary candidate for MVP? Why is it that we consistently overlook him in favor of the fan favorites?
It's all about depth.
A Victim of Depth
Kevin Durant and LeBron James have emerged as the elite players on their respective teams. Even Chris Paul has joined them in such a capacity.
Unfortunately for Tony Parker, he has been lost amidst the depth of his roster.
With big names such as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Parker is perceived to be "just another star." With a Top 5 second unit in terms of scoring the basketball, Parker's value becomes further clouded.
Depth doesn't mean the Spurs are doing well without Parker.
When Parker is on the floor, the Spurs are averaging 103.4 points scored and 93.0 points allowed per 48 minutes. When he is off of the floor, however, San Antonio is averaging 102.6 points scored and 98.0 points allowed.
From having unparalleled dominance to being elite. A more severe drop-off than one might assume.
With all of this being known it becomes clear that Parker is, in fact, a deserving MVP candidate. Unfortunately, what Parker deserves is not what he receives.
No matter how wrong it is to overlook him, Parker will never win MVP.