The San Antonio Spurs currently hold the best record in the league at 38-11. With another 33 games left on their schedule, it will be intriguing to see how the team performs going forward. Tony Parker has been a major catalyst in their success, averaging 20.1 points and 7.6 assists, all in 32.7 minutes a game.
His field goal percentage of 53.4 is just short of a career-high, while he shoots a career-high 39.6 percent from beyond the arc. As puzzlingly underrated as the Spurs are, it begs the question if Parker can win the MVP award this season.
The success of the Spurs cannot fall solely on Parker, however. Long-time teammate Tim Duncan is posting 17.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, on a solid 50.5 percent shooting. Much like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the duo of Parker and Duncan are mostly responsible for the Spurs' top record.
While San Antonio's success does stem from a collective effort, the two All-Stars are at the helm. Yet to once again compare them to Miami, LeBron is given more credit to the overall project.
The same distribution needs to be applied to Parker.
In games that Duncan has been absent, the 6'2" guard elevated his production. Parker's averages upped to 24.6 points and 9.6 assists on 61.4 percent shooting, still in his usual 33 minutes per game.
Parker significantly improved his jump shot in the offseason, improving his mid-range percentage of 40 percent from last season to a spectacular 48 percent thus far.
In addition, he is the only point guard shooting over 50 percent from the floor, with his 53.4 dwarfing second-place Darren Collison's 48.6 percent.
The overall team benefits from Parker's presence as well. Due to head coach Gregg Popovich's absolutely stellar coaching, the statistical analysis of the team's play with and without Parker is almost seamless. The Spurs score 102.5 points on 47.8 percent shooting per 48 minutes with their point guard on the court. When he rests on the bench, the team produces 103.8 points on 47.8 percent shooting per 48 minutes.
However, their defensive rating of 97.6 with Parker falls to 105.1 when he is absent. A defensive rating measures how many points a team allows per 100 possessions, so a higher rating is in fact poor as more points are allowed.
Parker is also sporting a PER of 23.51 which ranks seventh overall in the league, and second amongst point guards, trailing just the Clippers' Chris Paul. He is playing solid individual defense as well, not only as evidenced by the previously noted defensive rating, but in that he is keeping his opponent to a 13.2 PER. The league average is approximated at 15.00, so it points to Parker's effort on defense.
There are a number of players in the league that will receive more attention for this award, namely LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
However, with the league's best record, the San Antonio Spurs are ahead of both the aforementioned teams in terms of success. Tony Parker is at the helm, not only playing fantastically individually, but having an overall effect on his squad. He has stepped up when valuable contributors have missed time, and should be a top candidate for this year's MVP award.
All statistics sourced from Synergy Sports, 82games.com and nba.com/stats .
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