My own personal hatred of Tony Parker aside, I think it's hard to disagree that Parker will invariably kill the Spurs playoff dreams this year. I say this year because I realize what Parker can do in years past and possible years ahead.
In my opinion, and as the facts would show, this team flourished under George Hill. many began calling us a dark horse in the playoffs. A possible nightmare matchup for any team (except for the Jazz). A wild card title contender. Some were even saying we were likely to win it all.
But as the Memphis and Phoenix games show, significant Parker minutes lead to disaster (though Phoenix was really on that game and is still a very hot team) A look ahead as to why after the jump.
Parker as a player in relation to the team:
I respect how Tony Parker can be an unstoppable force offensively at times, but he hasn't done this all year and his offense has actually been incredibly inconsistent and below average. You can place this on injuries, but even now he may still be dealing with plantars fascisomethingorotheritis and the effects of his hand injury.
Now not only he is dealing from his already previously established inconsistencies of the year, but the fact that he is now rusty from his hand injury. Then of course are his other issues of years past that still happen to this very day.
- Horrible defense
- Selfish mentality
- Frequent bad passes
With the team set up this year, those are all issues the team is built against. This has been a generous ball club that has lived on doling out the scoring and setting up through great passing. This has been a team that was finding its stride on defense. This was becoming a low-turnover team.
Parker's return now goes against all that had earned us success against powerhouses like Orlando, Boston, Los Angeles, and possibly the most impressive; Cleveland. Our formula for success was pretty basic: good defense, distribute the ball, and don't try to do too much.
Basically, Parker's "I can score on every shot and don't need to pass or play defense" mentality goes against the overall team mentality. Oh, and if Manu says he doesn't like playing with him, we should probably listen.
Parker's impact on the team as a whole:
Isn't it interesting how when Parker was gone that Manu turned it up a notch, Bonner got relevant, and RJ actually played like RJ, not to mention Duncan starting getting back to early season form? That's because Parker takes away the opportunities of other, more consistent, scoring options.
Bonner open for a 3, nah I'll just drive into the double team and make it.....no wait I didn't......I blame Manu. This is how I best sum TP's line of thinking as I've seen him play over the years. Parker will get his numbers, but he takes away from RJ, Bonner, Duncan, Hill, Blair, Dyess, and most important of all, Ginobili.
Parker's presence makes Manu the main distributor instead of the main scorer. Now while Manu is a great passer, his best asset is his god-like scoring ability which was better than even King James last month and early this month. Parker assumes himself the role of top/primary scorer though he should actually be the third option (Manu and Duncan as one and two respectively)
Now then let's put Hill or Temple in and see their impact. What we now see is Manu can now be free to get good, sharp passes and be able to do whatever the hell he wants without feeling pressured to play the role of a point guard. He can also rely on the fact that Hill or Temple can do the job themselves or get a pass to Duncan in the post or RJ on penetration instead of having to do it himself.
Basically, Hill or Temple is like a blanket for Manu. It makes him feel comfortable in his own natural environment. Where as Parker is like Manu's hand falling asleep, it creates uncomfort and awkwardness in a now hostile environment.
This effect then cascades down the company line, cause you know every Spurs player is thinking, "oh god, if Manu is uncomfortable then we're screwed." Thus we witness regression. RJ suddenly feels less confident penetrating, Duncan doesn't like his chances of getting a good pass from Parker, and the team as a whole goes into decline.
Parker's impact on other teams:
Where as this category would be a high-point of the Spurs, I now consider it a weakness equal, if not greater than, our lack of a legit 7-footer. In the past, parker would draw double and even triple teams with his dynamic penetration and sweet jumper.
Now he is only rarely doubled with stagnant penetration and a dead jumper (though he looked better versus memphis). Teams know he's inconsistent this year, and a very much average offensive threat.
Not only that, but they know he's a major weak point on defense. PG's can now score more effectively than they normally would (I'm looking at you Conley). Now a charging point will have to draw away the interior defender and suddenly a big man is open for a pass and an easy score.
Basically Parker initiates a chain-reaction of sorts. Now Hill and Temple have the defensive capabilities to prevent this from happening.
What I'm saying is, while I hold respect for Parker's past abilties, his mentality and skill set just don't work for this team. Especially when it comes playoff time. This team has had success versus NBA powerhouses at a stunningly consistent rate with Parker out and Hill in. Thus it is Hill we need healthy for playoffs, more so than it is Parker.
How to use Parker:
It seems Popovich has struggled all year finding how to use everyone. maybe he just isn’t used to not running a team of fossils and zombies.
But Parker has been very much misused on this athletic Manu team. With Manu starting, we see a deficiency of scoring off the bench. Therefore, let’s play parker when manu goes and rests (but NEVER at the same time). This way there’s always a reliable scoring option for guys who can’t get open. A safety net if you will. I mean look at what we could have.
Parker plays SG and thus doesn’t have to run the offense, a role filled by a better passer in Temple. Parker can get the ball if Bonner can’t drive and Blair isn’t open in the post and can open up things or just score on his own.
Manu gets the first unit and is now free to do whatever he wants, which is always good.
Think of Parker as our Lamar Odom. A critical scorer for our second unit.
Unfortunately it seems Popovich is gearing up to get Parker as the starter yet again.