Power Ranking the San Antonio Spurs Roster: No. 5, Tony Parker
By David Kenyon
The San Antonio Spurs list 18 players on the roster heading into training camp, and Air Alamo will break down each of the current players, their strengths, weaknesses, chances to make the roster and expectations for the 2015-16 NBA season.
Tony Parker has served as the catalyst of the Spurs offense for a handful of years, but it’s time for the veteran to complement San Antonio’s young stars.
Who Is He?
Back in 2001, the Spurs selected a little point guard from France. Now entering his 15th season, Parker is one of the greatest players in San Antonio history and has a strong international résumé.
Jan 10, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) dribbles the ball down the court in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Spurs won 108-93. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
He’s earned six All-Star nods, four championships, the 2007 Finals MVP and holds the franchise record for assists in a career. Parker has averaged 16.9 points and 5.9 assists throughout his 1,008 games.
Parker also has a few international accolades, including FIBA EuroBasket MVP and FIBA Europe Player of the Year. Recently, he was a part of his fourth medal-winning team at EuroBasket.
Injuries—whether hamstring, calf, ankle, etc.—have constantly hampered Parker, but he can still display that borderline-elite talent if completely healthy.
Strengths and Weaknesses
When Parker is at his best, he’s nearly impossible to stop in the pick-and-roll. The point guard can attack the basket—using nine different ways to finish at the rim—bury an 18-foot jumper or snap a pass to the rolling big man.
However, last season showed clear signs of Parker’s inevitable decline. His average shot distance increased from 9.9 feet to 11.4, and Parker attempted 52.2 percent of his shots from 10 feet or farther compared to 44.2 in 2013-14. But he only connected on approximately 41 percent of them.
Parker seemed to have added a three-point shot to his arsenal, knocking down 50.9 percent from long distance before the All-Star break. From then through the postseason, though, he only watched 9-of-41 (22.0 percent) triples move the net.
The 33-year-old must adapt his offensive style, especially because Parker isn’t a great defender. San Antonio will continue to hide that weakness, but only as long as Parker can contribute on the scoring end.
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What to Expect in 2015-16
For the 15th straight season, Parker will be the point guard. He’s only five starts away from reaching 1,000 for his career, which would make him the 21st player in NBA history to reach the mark.
Achievements aside, however, the 2015-16 campaign is an important season for Parker. He can be a liability when shots aren’t falling. Fortunately for Parker—and he’s recognized this, per Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express News—the pressure to excel is slowly being removed because of Kawhi Leonard.
"“Like Timmy transitioned to Manu, Manu transitioned to me, now it’s going to be transitioned to Kawhi. I’ll try to do my best to stay aggressive and be involved. But Kawhi’s going to be the man.”"
Yes, while Parker said this before LaMarcus Aldridge signed, that only further proves Parker will take a step back from the spotlight.
Parker won’t be relied upon as heavily as recent seasons, but he’s still a key to San Antonio’s potential success. The Spurs will only benefit from the games Parker runs the point efficiently, and the veteran should be comfortable in his new offensive role before the playoffs arrive.