After a career-threatening injury in the 2017 Playoffs with the San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker struggled to find his rhythm despite an earlier return.
On one hand, the fact that Tony Parker played at all this season instead of opting for an injury-induced retirement is commendable. When Parker collapsed holding his leg against the Houston Rockets, many thought his career was over with the San Antonio Spurs. Given his age and lengthy tenure in the league, no one would have faulted him if it was.
Parker felt otherwise, electing instead to rehab like a madman and try to extend his career just a little bit longer, as he’s always maintained he would. When he did return to the court, the veteran point guard showed flashes of his old self, but ultimately struggled to return to form.
Initially slated to be out until February, Parker responded extremely well to his rehab and speculated that he could return as early as November. Ultimately, his prediction came true, and he returned to the lineup on November 27th, scoring 6 points in 14 minutes of action.
Early in his return, Parker played well in limited minutes and appeared comfortable picking his spots to attack when opportunities presented themselves. The Frenchman admitted in interviews that he still felt rusty, and ultimately ceded his starting position to second year point guard Dejounte Murray. In a true display of humility, Parker accepted his new role coming off the bench and reiterated his support of Murray on numerous occasions.
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As a bench player, Parker rarely exceeded 20 minutes, and largely failed to make an impact. Although he played well in February and early March, Parker struggled as the season went on, culminating in a difficult series against the Warriors which saw Parker outmatched on both ends of the floor. On the year, Parker averaged 7.7 points per game in 19 minutes of action, the lowest of both in his career.
Ultimately, the Spurs likely knew what to expect out of Parker this year, so it’s not as if they’re disappointed in their longtime starter’s production. All things considered, Parker’s impact on this team is much stronger in the locker room than the box score, and that’s likely to remain the case going forward if the Spurs bring him back.
Overall grade: C
It seems Parker’s age has finally caught up with him, and his production on both ends of the floor suffered for it this year. He’s reiterated his desire to return, and if he does, its likely he’ll see his playing time decrease even further as he functions more and more as a player-coach to Murray.