Apr 23, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) prior to the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the AT

ESPN NBA Rank: Tony Parker finishes ahead of Bosh, Nash, Aldridge

ESPN has officially embarked on their quest to rank the top 500 NBA players for the upcoming season. As each Spur is listed, I will provide a synopsis and a brief take on why they deserve (or don’t) this ranking.

Tony Parker is the best player on the San Antonio Spurs.

This has not always been the case but he solidified his role as the primary ball handler after finishing his MVP caliber season, averaging 20.5 points, a career-high 8.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 48% shooting per-36 minutes. He produced 7.1 win shares, which amounts to approximately $11.08 million of value.

It was a defining season for Parker as he will undertake a similar role this season. Tim Duncan has tailored his game, and his shot selection reflects this, around Parker’s shot creating. Manu Ginobili has slowly morphed into a glorified spot-up shooter to compensate. He is still capable of taking over the offense while Parker is sidelined but he doesn’t necessarily need to for the Spurs to be successful.

The voters for ESPN NBA Rank slotted Parker 12 spots higher than last year; he finished 16th — ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Steve Nash and LaMarcus Aldridge.

My take. This ranking is indicative of Parker’s improvement. Not only is he adept at scoring from the rim, ranking in the top five in field goal percentage at the rim among point guards, but he converted on 39% of his attempts from 16-23 feet, a percentage that also compares favorably with his peers. Parker could potentially jump further in next years rankings if he continues on his current trajectory.

Other Spurs already ranked: Manu Ginobili (25) | Tim Duncan (27) | Kawhi Leonard (95) | Tiago Splitter (149) | Stephen Jackson (151) | DeJuan Blair (155) | Danny Green (160) | Boris Diaw (162) | Gary Neal (171) | Matt Bonner (198) | Patty Mills (309) | James Anderson (424) | Cory Joseph (458) | Derrick Byars (488)

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