The ACC Player of the Year vote, more or less, is down to a trio of Triangle players: N.C. State’s T.J. Warren, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige and Duke’s Jabari Parker. There are others worthy of being in the discussion, namely Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels, Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon and Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis. But in reality, the award is going to go to one of the former three.
There are four general criteria voters use to determine who the MVP of the league is. Those are offensive performance, defensive performance, team success and defining moments. We whipped up a report card to grade each POY candidate in all four areas.
T.J. Warren, Forward, N.C. STate
Offense: A+. This is easy. There’s no better offensive player in the conference, and maybe the entire country. He’s been dominant all year while leading the ACC in scoring and field goal percentage.
Defense: B. Warren isn’t terrific on defense, but he’s not a liability. Steals aren’t a great measure of defensive prowess, but he does rank third in the league in swipes.
Team Success: B-. Here’s where it gets tricky for Warren. Few doubt he’s been the best player in the conference this season, but N.C. State won’t finish above .500 in the ACC and will likely spend its postseason in the NIT. On the flip side, this N.C. State team would be in the company of Virginia Tech and Boston College without him.
Defining Moments: B+. There are plenty to choose from. The duel with Marcus Paige and the 41 points against Pitt, to name a couple. But Warren never led N.C. State to a big-time upset or significant win.
Jabari Parker, forward, Duke
Offense: A. Save for a couple off nights at the beginning of the conference schedule, Parker has been an offensive force. He’s averaging 18.8 points per game and has eclipsed 20 points five times in conference play.
Defense: B-. There are two prongs to defense, one in which Parker excels and one in which Parker fails. On the one hand, he leads the ACC with 8.97 rebounds per game. On the other, his defense has been abysmal all year, at times leading you to wonder whether he’s trying at all. He’s one of the primary reasons Duke is among the ACC’s worst post defense teams.
Team Success: B. Duke locked up a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament, but is that enough for the Blue Devils? There’s little argument that Duke is the most talented team in the conference this season. A 23-7 season is far from poor, but it could’ve, and probably should’ve, been better.
Defining Moments: B. Most of Parker’s moments came early in the season, when he stole everyone’s breath by scoring at least 20 points in his first seven games as a freshman. He’s registered plenty of highlights along the way, though he’s been quiet late in a handful of Duke losses.
Marcus Paige, guard, North Carolina
Offense: B+. Paige averages 16.9 points per game, good for sixth in the conference. He’s had his bursts, scoring 35 against N.C. State and 25 against Maryland, but he’s also had several mediocre outings on the offensive end.
Defense: A-. Paige is the best defender among the three candidates. He’s won UNC’s defensive player of the week award 10 times this season, which is the most on a team that’s been good defensively all year.
Team Success: B+. UNC ran smack into adversity this season when it found out halfway through the year that P.J. Hairston wasn’t returning. Paige kept the ship rolling during that time. After starting 1-4 in the ACC, Paige led UNC to a 12-game winning streak while emerging as the team’s leader and best player.
Defining Moments: A. He won the aforementioned duel with Warren, making the game-winning layup with .9 seconds remaining. He had the game-saving block at the buzzer against Notre Dame two games later. Against Duke, he scored six points in the last 2:11 to seal the upset.