At 34 years old, playing against some of the most athletic point guards the NBA has ever seen there is no way that Tony Parker can keep up, right? He’s not scoring 30 points at will like Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard, he isn’t breaking ankles like Stephen Curry or Kyrie Irving, and probably not as sexy in the open court younger point guards. So what can Parker do that is going to allow him to keep up with the NBA’s best?
1. Get the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge & Pau Gasol
This year Parker is going to be in pick and pop heaven with both Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, probably two of the best true big men to use in the pick and pop. With Kawhi Leonard having emerged as a 21.2 ppg scorer in 2015-2016 and Aldridge being one of the NBA’s best in the post, Parker is going to have a field day with both Aldridge and Gasol. This is why I believe the San Antonio Spurs offense might actually be better without Tim Duncan than it was with him last year, but we’ll save that for another time.
2. Mid-range jump shot & floater
The mid-range jump shot and floater doesn’t cost nearly as much energy as dunking on 7 footers or taking ten dribbles to break down a defender for a step back three pointer. Parker has never been a player to waste any of his dribbles or his energy, if you watch closely most of Parker’s shots are mid-range shots, wide open threes, or his patented floater.
3. Always be in the right spot
Parker is not a lock down on ball defender, and he is not going to become one. But what also is not going to change with Parker, as with any Spurs player, is that he is nearly always in the right position on defense. Parker seems to always know what shot that he wants to force an opponent to take and where his help is going to be. Not having Tim Duncan will be a loss for the Spurs on defense- but Gregg Poppovich and his staff will surely find a way to adjust like they always do. Being in the right spot will only allow Parker to conserve more energy.
4. He only needs to play 27 minutes a Night
Unlike most of the elite point guards of the NBA, Parker is not being asked to play 35 heavy minutes a night with Poppovich-mandated days off. Parker gets to play a pedestrian 27 minutes (2015-2016). As mentioned before, Parker is not looking to break players down in the isolation either. All he does it set people up for the pick & pop where he is looking to either get his patented floater, a smooth pull up jump shot in the mid range, or a pass to his high percentage shooting bigs. If this doesn’t work he can defer to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, or even Pau Gasol now.
5. He is a Master of Changing Speeds
Parker still has some speed and quickness, but he has become so adept at changing speeds and so intelligent on the floor that he rarely needs them. Combine that with the pieces he has around him, low minutes during the regular season, and the situations he chooses to attack from and Parker almost never looks “old” on offense. He only truly needs to be fast for maybe a handful of possessions per game. This style of play will allow him to stay fresh come playoff time (which we know is all the Spurs care about).
Parkers main stats (ie. Points, rebounds, assists, and steals) won’t be anywhere close to the level of the NBA’s best (11.9 ppg, 5.3 apg in 27 minutes per game last season). There also won’t be a lot of him on highlight reels either. But that is by design, if you watch the game when Parker is on the floor you will see that he is always in control of his offense getting the shots that he and the Spurs want. Don’t be surprised when the playoffs come around and Parker is giving your favorite young point guard fits again.