In lieu of Paul Pierce’s award-winning week, Paul Flannery wrote a column titled “The Truth: Paul Pierce has been the Celtics’ best player.” While we could certainly spend hours debating the merits of that statement (Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are pretty good, too, and Ray Allen has also been decent), Flannery understands that. Still, he argues, Pierce has been the Celtics’ MVP. (WEEI)
Pierce is shooting over 50 percent from the floor for the first time in his career. He’s also posting his best free throw percentage, committing fewer turnovers and his defensive rebounding is back to where it was before Garnett arrived. We can go further still into the wonkier realm of advanced stats. According to the +/- numbers on Basketball Value, the Celtics are 19 points better when Pierce is on the court than when he is not. No player in the league has a bigger impact on his team.
Pierce’s statistical improvements have been subtle — and owe more to good health than any newfound skill — but they have been very real. They’ve also only been a part of a larger story.
When the Celtics needed someone to run the team while Rajon Rondo was hurt, he did it. When they need someone to guard the star forwards in this league, he does it while sacrificing at the offensive end. Pierce — because he is Pierce — believes with all his heart that if he absolutely had to go out and drop 25 a night he could still do it, and there are games when he does. Going back to Rivers’ maxim on availability, Pierce has also played every game, which is no small accomplishment on this team.
Reading Flannery’s whole column is certainly encouraged, mostly because it will enlighten you and entertain you, all at once.
So what say you? Would you call Pierce, with his remarkable efficiency and stunning consistency, the Celtics’ most valuable player this season? Or would you lend your vote to Garnett, who affects games on both ends like few others in the NBA? Or do you prefer Rondo, who runs the team with all the selfishness of Mother Theresa?