It's a changing of the guard in San Antonio with Tim Duncan gone, and at 34 years old the Spurs still need Tony Parker to produce at a high level for the team to contend.
Confidence from fans has wavered on the six-time all-star, and there's some cause for concern. His advanced assist numbers and scoring are down from prior seasons, and his turnover percentage rose minimally despite a decrease in usage.
But Parker is still one of the most valuable players to the squad thanks to his intangibles -- a varied set of skills and abilities that have been honed with time alongside Gregg Popovich.
Here are three things the veteran point guard brings to the table that might not necessarily show up in the box score.
In 2016 Parker handed LaMarcus Aldridge nearly three times the amount of assists than the next closest Spur. He also assisted Aldridge around 20% more frequently in lineups together than did backup point guard Patty Mills.
This is a crucial part of building an offense that incorporates a player like Aldridge, who is going to be even more important with Duncan in retirement.
In the below play against Portland, Parker helps save a dwindling shot clock with a secondary sideline pick-and-roll action. Aldridge swings to the elbow, and despite the difficult angle, look at where Parker delivers the ball for Aldridge: right at his collarbone, ready to launch before the defender can recover.
That assist will show up in the box score, but passing accuracy and rhythm will effect other parts of the game -- namely Aldridge's own confidence as he gets buckets -- which in turn influences games in a big way.
Parker has never been a huge steals guy, but he had one of his best defensive ratings last season on the best defensive team in the NBA. But it's also about simple defensive awareness.
According to NBA.com, the Spurs led the league in deflections -- when a defensive player gets his hand on a ball on non-shot attempts. Watching film on Parker, he knows when to have his head turned and how to hawk for loose balls on these plays. He's so often in the right position to scoop up the ball and change the floor.
This seems ethereal, I know, but if you're a poor team defender it's likely you won't be around to grab these balls. Many of these situations are not credited as direct steals by Parker, but it's a change of possession nevertheless.
What impact might this have?
We saw an increase in pace from the Spurs starting with the 2010-11 season, along with an increase in 3-point firepower. Last year they strayed away from transition, but they were nonetheless efficient when they did run. And, Parker still logged one of the highest average speeds in the league.
With Duncan gone, Parker's ability to grab the ball and quickly change the floor will help the Spurs deal with the Big Fundamental's absence.
Despite his age, Parker was still ninth in assist percentage on dribble-penetration for players with more than 550 drives, per NBA.com. He was also fourth on that list when it came to field goal percentage.
Parker still has an incredibly quick first step, something that should be valuable to the San Antonio offense.
In this play against Oklahoma City, Parker drives on the pick and roll and draws 3 players. He also gets the switch he wants on Enes Kanter.
When he drives again, he winds up with four Thunder all around the painted area, making for a difficult recovery.
We saw in Portland that you can build a 3-point shooting squad around a penetrating point guard and Aldridge at the elbow and left wing.
Those shots can come directly from the post player, or on a hockey assist as teams try to cover all of San Antonio's weapons.
As he gets on in years, Tony Parker isn't quite the same player he used to be. That said, he has a gravity and impact that literally took years to create under Gregg Popovich's tutelage. His effect on others, on and off the court, is still essential as the Spurs head into their first season without Tim Duncan in nearly two decades.
Dane Carbaugh is a video analyst for SB Nation, Hardwood Paroxysm, and Blazer's Edge. He hosts the YouTube channel The Rewind which can be found by clicking here. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.