OK, not all of it is chatter about the difficulties of voting on the award. Some of it is just bombs thrown between CP3 fans vs. the people convinced CP3 adoration is a being “forced” upon them by the ESPN and the WNBA. I don’t want to run through that no-person’s land between the two sides right now, but I will at some point.
But whether you are a “fan” of CP3 or not, it’s hard to rationally oppose Parker being the league’s MVP.
(If you want to be irrational, of course, it’s perfectly fine to oppose just about anything. And by definition, fans are absolutely allowed to be irrational. So don’t worry, I’m not trying to change your mind if you didn’t want Parker to get this award or don’t think she deserved it. But … )
Come on. She averaged 18.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists during the regular season, starting every game for Los Angeles.
The Sparks didn’t make the WNBA Finals, but that was mostly because of their inconsistent _ and sometimes even counterproductive _ guard play. It was not because of any shortcomings from Parker.
I debated among Seattle’s Sue Bird, Parker, Connecticut’s Lindsay Whalen and San Antonio’s Becky Hammon for the league MVP. I went with Bird because if you’re ever going to give the most VALUABLE player award to that type of player – the point guard who had to take on extra scoring responsibility because of injuries and/or other deficiencies on her team – then this was the year for Bird.
That said, it was hard for me to not vote for Parker. Very hard.
Post players tend to have a natural statistical advantage for such awards because they pile up points and rebounds – the numbers that always stand out most – in quantities that guards usually do not. And Parker definitely had the numbers.
But she also stepped right into a starting role with her pro team right after leading Tennessee to two NCAA titles, was an important part of the gold-winning Olympic team, and then came back and almost led the Sparks to the Finals.
Bird, Whalen and Hammon all merited serious MVP consideration not just for their statistics but because they were so much the engines that drove their teams. But maybe we all can fall into the trap of assuming that type of player ALWAYS has to be a guard. Perhaps post players don’t always get the credit they should for their ability to be the motivating force on their teams.
At any rate, like I said, I went with Bird and the tiebreaker, so to speak, was that I thought without her there was no chance that Seattle would have been in the playoffs. I tried to put a quantitative measure on “value,” which admittedly is always subjective.
Which leads to the question in the title of this post: Should there be an Most VALUABLE Player award for the regular season or a Most OUTSTANDING Player? Meaning, should we not even try to measure value, since it is so subjective, especially over the course of 34 games?
I found myself thinking, while going back and forth in my mind on deciding whom to vote for, that if was MOP, then I wouldn’t have hesitated to vote for Parker. Does that mean I didn’t think she was extremely valuable? Of course not. But, again, to me Bird’s value was such that I thought this was the season to give her a vote.
Now, consider that in the WNBA Finals, it’s a little easier – or at least it seems to be – for me to pick an MVP. I’m looking at a small number of games – between three and five – and I’m seeing them all in person, plus talking to the players and coaches right after the games. I get a first-hand sense of the “feel” of how each player in contention for the award is impacting her team and what her peers think.
With this year’s WNBA finals, there is a runaway winner for MVP at least through two games: Katie Smith. And, yes, that brings up yet another question: Should she and teammate Deanna Nolan have warranted more consideration for season MVP?