Before we get started, let’s acknowledge that last night was game one of an 82 game season, and it’s dangerous to make overreactions this early.
With that said, did you see Tony Parker last night?
The Spurs’ point guard was in excellent form, providing the spark that the Spurs needed to prevail in a tight 101-100 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Tony Parker put on a brilliant offensive performance, as he distributed, moved well with and without the ball, and used his speed and gorgeous footwork to score around the basket.
More importantly, it looks like Parker has added another wrinkle to his already expansive repertoire, as he went 4-4 from three, including the go-ahead three shot with 1:07 left in the game.
It was a welcome surprise, as the four triples tied his career high. As a career .316% three-point shooter, Tony Parker is not known for his volume from beyond the arc.
Parker’s game could easily be dismissed as a flukey, one-off performance, but, it seems like the veteran point guard is determined to transform his long-range shooting from a liability into a weapon.
So what prompted the change? Spurs shooting coach Chip Engelland deserves much of the credit, as the three-point shooting guru has reportedly been working closely with Tony Parker:
“I know I was struggling on my corner threes, but I kept working with (shooting coach) Chip (Engelland),” Parker said. “I kept working on it, and I was: It’s going to go in tonight.”
Coach Popovich echoes Tony Parker’s sentiments, crediting Engelland and apparently giving Parker his seal of approval to keep firing away from he corners:
“Chip Engelland works with him every day on it. He shoots those all the time. The corners are a place where he has gotten confident. I don’t want him being Chris Mullin, coming down in transition and shooting threes all night, but when the ball swings and he’s open like that we have confidence when he gets his feet set and shoots it. That’s Chip’s work.”
If Tony Parker can maintain his newfound shooting touch, it’s adds a new dimension to the Spurs’ offense.
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Parker could pair with Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to give the Spurs a trio of deadly three point shooters in their starting five, providing excellent spacing and giving Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter a lot of room to work with down low.
Throw in Marco Belinelli, Cory Joseph, Matt Bonner, Manu Ginobili and to an extent Boris Diaw, and the Spurs should have multiple three point threats on the court at all times.
Credit Tony Parker for recognizing a hole in his game and working to fix it, and credit Chip Engelland for helping him refine his three-point stroke. That relationship seems to have changed drastically since the days when Engelland basically forbade Parker from shooting threes.