There’s No Reason To Overlook Parker

 

HANG TIME, Texas – It’s easy to get overlooked when you’re in San Antonio.

First of all, because coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t care about getting noticed and does everything but throw a wet blanket over his team and the entire Alamo. The only thing that matters is winning.

Second, well, there is no second.

So it is that Tony Parker can once more be incrementally taking his already lofty game up to higher level and somehow people complain that he didn’t merit inclusion on the Western Conference All-Star team.

Did those critics stop watching after the first two weeks of the season when Parker was struggling to find the range on his shot? Have they not been able to appreciate that while the Spurs have again risen steadily and relentlessly to the point where they have the best record in the NBA (36-11) going into tonight’s game against the Bobcats it’s been Parker with his hand on the tiller?

As noted by the wide-awake Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News:

Parker has been nothing short of spectacular since then, averaging 21.2 points on 54.2-percent shooting in over the past 39 games. He has scored in double-figures in every one of those outings, the longest streak of his career.

Reset the cutoff to his breakout game at Boston on Nov. 21 (26 points, 12-for-17 shooting), and Parker is shooting 55.7 percent over the past 35 outings.

Parker’s 2012-13 stats, with his career-highs in parenthesis:

–20.1 points per game, second (22.0, 2008-09).
–7.5 assists per game, second (7.7, 2011-12).
–52.7 field goal percentage, second (54.8, 2005-06).
–58.6 true shooting percentage, first.
–23.3 Player Efficiency Rating, second (23.4, 2008-09).
–116 offensive rating, first.
–.215 win shares per 48 minutes, first.

“He is unbelievable,” teammate Manu Ginobili told reporters in San Antonio after Parker scored 31 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter to beat the Suns. “He is in that point of his career where he is so confident. He is doing so good that he can relax a little bit in the first half then when we need him, he starts making those jumpers and takes over.”

The trouble is that Parker can’t seem to outrun the enduring image of the impetuous 19 year old who entered the league full of questions about his toughness even though he is now an impervious 30.

Through all the years and all the big games and all the playoff series, Parker fell into and accepted the role as Pop’s public whipping boy and perhaps that image has stuck to the bottom of his sneakers like a wad of discarded gum.

Maybe that is why when the MVP talk turns away from LeBron James or Kevin Durant and in the direction of a point guard this season, it is Chris Paul who gets mentioned instead of Parker.

Through three different championship runs, Tim Duncan has been rightly portrayed as the tentpole in the middle of the lineup that holds up the Spurs franchise. In so many late-games situations, when the crowds are roaring and the air is sucked out of the building, it has been Ginobili who played the role of bull-in-china-shop with whatever-it-takes style.

For more than nearly a decade, Parker took the reins of the offense and took the flak for whatever went wrong. He would take the verbal blasting from Pop in timeouts and then trot right back out of the huddle with the same bemused smile on his face.

Even when Parker finally stepped into the spotlight with a performance that got him named MVP of the 2007 NBA Finals — the only time in four championships the honor did not go to Duncan — the significance was diminished in some eyes because a young LeBron’s Cleveland team was simply no challenge in a 4-0 sweep.

But all of that has changed in recent seasons as Duncan (36) and Ginobili (35) have edged closer to the end of their careers and required more monitoring and a lessening of their minutes.

Popovich shifted more of the focus and the burden of the Spurs offense onto Parker, because he knew his point guard was capable of doing more. When Parker responded with the all-around best season of his career a year ago, Popovich said the team would expect more this time around and Parker never blinked.

“Over the last few years it is becoming my team and coach Pop is always challenging me to become the franchise player who closes games and makes good decisions with the ball offensively for myself and my teammates,” Parker said. “I always take to heart Pop’s challenges.”

The challenge rose just a bit more when an illness forced Popovich to miss the Spurs’ last three games and Duncan also sat out with a sore knee. In their absence, Parker had games of 24 points-13 assists, 23-10, 31-7 and shot 32 of 51 (.627) from the field.

It’s easy to get overlooked in San Antonio when you’re Tony Parker. But it shouldn’t be.

24 Comments

  1. melquin says:

    the success of spurs is not in parker hands,it is because he got plenty of teammates can make shoot anywhere, if he is really good as he are,why he cannot bring france national team to any championship?like euro basket,world championship,and the olympics.

    • boom says:

      He lead france to 3rd place last yr…?

      • Marco29 says:

        Second place actually and for the olympics he missed the preparation due to his eye injury and the team was also missing Noah. Otherwise, they could have contented for a medal.

  2. Marco29 says:

    I feel sorry for Curry who has a great season with the Warriors, but Tipi (as he is called in France) is a legitimate all-star since years, producing consistent numbers and driving one of the best NBA teams every night. He is already the franchise player and will be the cornerstone of the Spurs in the future.
    On what he has shown with the French national team (silver medalist at the last European championship and who could have gotten an olympic medal had Spain not intentionally lost in the fist round to avoid Team USA before the final), he has the leadership skills and maturity in his game to continue improve the game of his teammates and keep the Spurs as legtitmiate contenders for a few more years.
    Being a Frenchman and playing for Pop in a small market like SA doesn’t give him the recognition he deserves. American fans prefer flashy players like Westbrook rather than efficient ones like Parker (.62 shooting lately and almost always over ,50)

  3. Franz says:

    Doesn’t matter what people thing. Parker still has more championships and finals MVPs than CP3, D Williams, Rose, Rondo, Rubio, Westbrook, Kidd, Nash, Irving and Curry combined!

  4. BJ says:

    Parker is one of the best PG in the league. I never thought he got the recognition he has so much deserved. He slices the defense like a hot knife thru better night in and night out. Im not sure what it is, maybe its because he isn’t flashy or more aggressive, but he is a smooth and efficient PG. should have started in the Allstar game.

  5. joyce says:

    Parker has always been the most underrated player since day one. It wasn’t hard to see his rookie year that he was someone special, and he has done nothing but improved every year since. Yes there are other great point guards, Paul, Westbrook, Rondo, I don’t see how they can really be considered better than Parker. NO ONE can drive the lane the way he does. NO ONE has a prettier more in control shot while getting pounded by people twice his size and not getting calls. It has never been more clear than in the last few games without POP and without Timmy that Tony is the floor leader at this time. The other night when the team was struggling and giving up a lead, Tony comes back into the game, drives the lane a few times. Finds the people with the open shot and all of the sudden everyone is playing better again. One other thing I would like to say, is that Kawai Leonard is the most exciting thing to come along since Tony Parker, and he is also often overlooked for his contributions. I can only hope that he follows the same path as Tony.

  6. kevin nicholls INDIANAPOLIS says:

    Tony Parker is one of the top 5 players in the league, last year the spurs were first in the west and that was all parkers play at point and this year he’s ballin again and once agian the spurs first in the west, yes duncan last year and this year is playing great and the team is good from coaching to the bench, but with out parker there not the first seed and best record, Parker was a mvp player last year and he’s one this year.

  7. killuabest says:

    Unless Parket is american..he will get those credits..and so is the SA team.And its a media-hype NBA market , you wont get there unless you’re talk about day in and day out. If you would see things now, Drose, Rondo, CP3 aren’t playing coz of injuries, DWill playing bad for the Nets, still Parker hasn’t been mention for a good job/well done point guard in this league. Yes he is always overlooked.

  8. me says:

    Parker was snubbed, so was Pierce

  9. SR says:

    He should start ahead of Chris paul

  10. Ricardo says:

    Overlooked it’s easier if you don’t play for a big-market team plus americans tend to overlook non-american players in general. Pop is one of the best coaches ever,Parker is one of the best PG in the game,Manu is one of the most spectacular players we have ever seen in this league and Tim Duncan is one of the best big men ever to play this game and somehow this team is overlooked and under – appreciated,I don’t get it… As an european fan (Portuguese) I observe that europeans or non-american players are not appreciated as they should,the best example is Pau Gasol,always the man to blame when the Lakers don’t succeed forgeting about how bad they were before he got there.

  11. big cat says:

    best point guard in the league and has been for years now

    • celtics says:

      If you are actually talking about a true point guard it would be rondo

    • genoa says:

      I’m still going to say Chris Paul is the best PG in the league, but Tony is an all-star player for certain. I say that only because Parker ~still~ plays with Duncan and Manu, so while he’s taken over the reigns of the offense, he hasn’t needed to be the absolute leader in all respects for that team, yet. Paul had to drag NOH into the playoffs year in and out and he’s absolutely taken over the Clippers.

      I’m glad Parker got recognized by the coaches, but I’m baffled why the hell they took Westbrook whose numbers this year are so inflated and he’s barely shooting 40%.

    • Ingo says:

      Completely agree. Unfortunately for him he is underrated and overlooked. Future HOF!

  12. Megan says:

    Curry is soooooooooooooooooo HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  13. Obama says:

    I don’t think people have really been overlooking Parker I think they have been overlooking Kawhi Leonard and the improvement of Tiago Splitter

  14. Patty says:

    Why did they over look STEPH CURRY FROM THE ALL STAR GAME? CURRY IS AN OUTSTANDING PLAYER FOR THE WARRIORS.