Candace Parker Q&A: championships, Chelsea Gray, efficiency, MVP race

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 27: Candace Parker
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 27: Candace Parker /

WNBA award season is here. There are cases to be made for multiple players across the many categories. Those conversations are compelling, which is a testament to the immense talent of the players throughout the league.

Candace Parker’s pro resume is a decorated one. Last year she added ‘WNBA champion’ and ‘Finals MVP’ to that list. Parker and her Los Angeles Sparks enter the final weekend of the regular season with two games to play and the #1 seed still up for grabs.

In a Q & A with Parker, we took things back to the start of the regular season and how she and the Los Angeles Sparks arrived at this point — one game back with two to play and a top-two seeding secured as defending WNBA champs.

On what was being said within the team early on without having the full group together for a training camp:

Just stay in the moment. We’re a veteran team, so we know how important each game is. We play everybody three times. We try to win every series.

On coming off a Finals win with new teammates to integrate:

We talk a lot about just getting time on the court together and playing. Our core has been together for a while.

Integrating the new players, we knew it was going to take some time. But at the same time, we want to keep doing things the way we’re used to doing them.

I think that they learned rather quickly and have done a good job of moving with the ship. The ship’s going to keep moving and everybody’s been on it so far.

On the team’s scoring balance as Chelsea Gray has emerged in a starting role: 

I think it’s important that even when you’re not scoring, you’re doing stuff for the team. And I think that’s what’s special about this team — our ability to share the ball, our ability to space the floor, our ability to take advantage of what we’re good at.

That’s what we try to do. The ball is going to find the right play and we firmly believe that.

On Gray’s strengths and how they complement others on the team:

Chelsea is a dangerous player. She has the ball in her hands. She’s a big guard. In years past, [Alana Beard] has had to guard her position because we’ve been smaller at the point guard position.

Now Chelsea is able to guard bigger guards and you can’t really put a point guard on her. I think that just poses a problem for the other team.

In transition, she’s an amazing playmaker not just for herself but for other people as well. We play good defense, we get the ball, and we’re in secondary and it works to our advantage.

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 27: Chelsea Gray
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 27: Chelsea Gray /

On players being appreciated for efficiency, even when playing with other stars:

When is efficiency ever negative? We praise players in the NBA such as DeAndre Jordan, and [Rudy] Gobert signed a massive contract in Utah for being efficient and playing defense.

I think efficiency should never not be praised. If it was as easy as it is, then the defense should take away those efficient shots.

Putting the ball in the basket, no matter how you do it, is an art. And I don’t think that should be downgraded or looked at in a negative way no matter how you do it.

And if that’s the case then we could do that for Golden State. We could do that for Cleveland. We could do that for every other team. There’s been no player, himself or herself, that has completely put a team on their back and won a championship by themselves. It’s never happened in the sport.

With that being said, you need players; you need pieces around you. I don’t look at it as a downfall to play with other great players. That’s what’s going to win championships, and that’s what we’re focused on.

On the 2017 MVP conversation:

I don’t really worry about that. I’m not at that point in my career where that really matters. I’ve got two [MVPs]. I’ve got one championship. I’m trying to win more championships and that’s what I’m focused on. All that other stuff is more the media, more the fans, more the excitement of the game.

At the end of the day, I just want to play the best for my team whether it’s getting 8 assists, whether it’s drawing defenses, whether it’s playing defense, being smart and [knowing] when to help.

I really at this point don’t care. I’m 31 years old and I want to win championships. So all that other stuff, I kind of compare it to a Tim Duncan. That’s the type of career that I want to have.

I want to be confident enough in my own game that it’s okay if other people are successful. That’s what’s going to make us win, right?

I want to win championships and Tim Duncan was the master at that. For him to win the way that he did, with different stars alongside him, that’s pretty successful.

On the importance of what has been built in LA to remain focused and centered as they work with title in mind

It’s easy for me. I’ve been doing this for a while. So you just focus on the day-to-day. We have a team that’s veteran. We know what we’re capable of doing but we know that we can only do that if we take care of what’s in front of us. And that’s the most important thing.

What’s in front of Parker and the Sparks? First, a Friday game against Atlanta. Then a home date with Connecticut before the regular season officially comes to a close.

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