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NBA / Mar 31, 2008 / 2:49 pm

How Good is Tony Parker?

We’ve seen a shakeup in the NBA’s point guard hierarchy this year. Back in October/November, if you’d asked anyone who the top two PG’s in the League were, it would, in some order, undoubtedly be Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. Four months later, Chris Paul has taken over #1 on most lists, with — depending on which day you ask — anyone from Nash to Deron Williams to Baron Davis to Chauncey Billups to Kidd taking the #2 and #3 spots.

Here’s my question: Where does that leave Tony Parker? Whether it’s blind hatred of the Spurs or not, most people I’ve talked to put Parker firmly at the back of that first pack, only slightly above Rajon Rondo and Jose Calderon on the second tier. To me, that’s crazy.

From a pure talent standpoint, Parker (18.5 ppg, 5.8 apg) deserves at least first-tier mention. He might be faster than any starting PG in the game (Paul and Kidd come close), he runs his team’s system almost to perfection, he finishes in the lane probably better than any small guard, and he has one dependable go-to move (the floater). And the most important part: Parker has three championship rings and a Finals MVP trophy to his name.

The knocks against Parker that I hear most are that he plays with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (and plays for the best coach in the League), his jumper isn’t reliable, and his assist numbers are low. The counter-arguments? Coattail-riders don’t win Finals MVP’s or take over games when Duncan is out or having a bad night; Parker’s mid-range J is money, even if his three-ball isn’t Michael Redd-ish; and the Spurs system isn’t one that makes for a lot of assists from the point guard. Put Nash in Gregg Popovich‘s system and he tops out at 7 or 8 dimes a night. Likewise, TP could average 10 dimes per easy if he played in Phoenix.

Whenever I’m asked for a Top-5 or Top-10 list of point guards, I can never put Parker any lower than 5th because of his overall success. Those six aforementioned players? One ring between them (Billups), and Kidd is the only other one to even make a Finals appearance. At the end of the day, this whole thing is about winning, and no active point guard one has won more than Tony Parker.

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  • Juanito

    It’s a cliche, but I could have won Finals MVP in that system. If he were to ever leave S.A., TP would be a mid-level PG at best, along the lines of an Anthony Carter, Jarrett Jack, or Beno Udrih…perhaps Mike James.

  • fiyaman

    CP# and D-will aint been here that long give’em some time. If I had to choose now I would take CP3-DWill- Nash-Billups-BDiddy all over Parker (not in that particular order)

  • Matt

    Tony Parker is number 4 on my list and remember he is only 25. Wait till the playoffs when he is running laps around Baron Davis in the 1st round. TP could score over 20 every night if the Spurs needed that, they don’t! They are the champs for a reason! Manu takes some pressure off because of his ball handling skills, but the Spurs don’t win the chip without TP!

  • ibleedgreen

    Parker can ball, Juanito is saying some foolish things up there. And that is coming from a Spurs hater. Thats right. Hater. Take TP out of SA and he’s more of Bibby when he was nasty with less 3PT ability.

  • godfreyallstar

    forreal juanito? i sense some spurs jealousy, you obviously have your head up your ass if you put tony parker in the same breath as those guys. And if you have ever followed the nba other than your (probably bandwagon) team, you would know that parker started over udrih in san an, and udrih is a pretty good pg in sactown. also, jarrett jack is the third pg on a decent playoff team in the east that wouldn’t even be in the chase in the west. and anthony carter? i dont even need to elaborate on that. and no, you couldn’t win a championship in that system and whoever you got that cliche from is ignorant. being a top five point guard in the nba means that parker is one of the top guards in the entire world. even the worst pg in the league is better than you, and they wouldn’t drop 16 and 6 a game in the league or win any championships if the played for the spurs. if you have ever watched a spurs game (which you probably havent because youre obviously a spurs hater), you would know that the offense is more effective and explosive when parker is on the floor. jacque vaughn, our 2nd and sometiems 3rd pg, could not win a championship in that offense. so before you go and post somethin stupid again, think about what u sayin. that way people will think you actually follow the nba.

  • godfreyallstar

    and parker would be filthy on the suns

  • Jim

    Juanito, you speak the truth. Any scrub off the street can consistently get to the rim with the world’s best perimeter players guarding them, everyone knows that.

    I’m out like Juanito guarding an NAIA PG.

  • Yowiz

    Good point all along. I’ve been following TP since his days in Paris and in Team France, I can assure you that beside Nash, Paul and maybe Williams there’s no one better, you’ve got to remember that Pop system is not a system where point guards have many assists, it’s all about drive and kick and TP is the best at this.

  • Aaron

    The fact that you put Kidd in the top 3 fastest PGs makes me think you’re retarded and ruins your entire argument.

  • Junior

    that Juanito is stupid…parker would be on Ant Carters level!?!?!?!…get the hell outta herer

  • dagwaller

    Tony Parker on the Suns? Meet Leandro Barbosa.

  • D-Lite

    Some of ya’ll (Juanito et al), need to watch a game outside of a sports bar. Alot of guys dribble and run fast, but can’t gather themselves to finish or take the bump and continuation. If TP was in a big five market he would have a statue in the hopper. The fact that he can drive and kick is the hook. True ballers know the 2nd or 3rd pass after the kick normally leaves the best option for a clean look. Get real, get understanding. B-ball is not learned on ESPN U…………..

  • Brown

    D-Lite, it’s sad but there’s always going to be ignorant posters on here who don’t actually understand the game and only know what they see on Sportscenter. Stats don’t always tell the whole story on how good a player is. Parker is a huge part of the Spurs’ success, if you don’t realize that, you’re a moron and shouldn’t be allowed to watch basketball.

    The one knock I can think of against TP is that his wife gets more face time during games than he does. People should just start calling him Eva, or Tony Longoria. Yeah she’s hot as fuck, but do you need to show her every time there’s a break in play? If you asked a casual NBA fan to name one thing they know about TP, they’d probably say that he’s married to Eva. Like it or not, she’s taken a huge amount of attention away from how he plays on the court.

  • Big Shot BOB

    I got TP in the top five…He deosn’t get a lot of assist in the Spurs system (Yowiz) not because it’s a drive and kick system…but because everything flows through TD. They throw it to him in the post to begin each possesion, if he draws the double he finds the open man, if not it goes back out to TP for pick and roll.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @Aaron — I’ve talked to NBA players who say Kidd is still one of the fastest players in the League end-to-end. I’ll take their opinions as fairly credible.

  • http://kowtz.blogdrive.com kowtz

    I remember when TP got drowned when he was supposed to be the franchise point, then suddenly Spurs make a big hard pitch at acquiring, then free agent, Jason KIDD… ;D

  • girllybballluver

    I so agree with Brown*

  • AL

    No way. Step it up, TP

  • Keith

    In the Spurs system the point guard won’t get as many assists as in other systems. Their offense is mainly about getting the ball into the lane and, if the defense collapses on you, kick it out to the perimeter.

    When Parker drives the lane and kicks it out to an open shooter. The defenders rotating to the shooter usually have to come from a long distance. More often than not the ball gets passed around the horn to the other shooters and, eventually, someone takes it. I think this may be to tire out the perimeter defenders because so often that first shooter is wide open.

    Duncan tends to get a lot of assists because he generally passes to the shooter whom the double-team came from. The rotation back to that shooter usually comes from his initial defender, so the shooter doesn’t have anyone open to pass it to other than back to Duncan.

    Therefor, when Duncan kicks it out, there’s usually a shot or a repost-up. When Parker kicks it out the shooters play keep away for two or three passes and the assists get spread around.

    I haven’t looked it up, but I would guess that the Spurs outside shooters have a higher assist average than other teams.

  • tealish

    First poster is a tard. DIME: I’m all for free speech and everything, but sh*t like that needs to be censored. It does nothing but lower the brain cell count of anyone reading it. After Juan’s thoughts, I feel dumber already.

  • Shocker

    Avery Johnson always got 7-8 apg running the same system.

  • Rambot

    Juanito speaks the truth fools. Y’all need to get your heads out of Pop’s crotch and see it for what it is…don’t hate on a cat because he has a solid opinion. I for one would take at least half a dozen west PGs before I even considered Parker.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    Half-a-dozen point guards in the West? The starters are Kidd, Anthony Carter, Baron, Rafer, Brevin Knight, Derek Fisher, Bassy, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Beno Udrih, Earl Watson, Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Deron.

    I’ll give you 5: Nash, Kidd, Deron, Baron and CP. Who’s #6?

  • http://kowtz.blogdrive.com kowtz

    Maybe Beno Udrih’s better… yeah… they should have just traded TP and stuck it with Beno…

    wait wait wait… maybe it’s mike conley… oh wait, it’s gotta be bassy right? right right?

    -> Sarcasm there for ignorant readers…

  • Keith

    Shocker, their system has changed. They didn’t start amassing jump shooters until they saw how much Jaren Jackson and Steve Kerr helped them win a championship. Even with guys like Steve Smith and Steven Jackson they never rotated the ball the way they’ve done the last few years. During the Avery years and the early Parker years they generally kicked out and took the shot.

    And, just to clarify, I’m not commenting on why Parker, specifically, doesn’t have high assists over his career. I’m commenting on why any point guard would have low assists in the Spurs current system.

  • Benoit Benjamin

    I’m with you fellas. the guy is legit. last year he was SA’s most efficient, not best, player for the whole. he’s been twice an all-star, chosen by the coaches. I guess that speaks. he’s the fourth or fifth best PG in the league, in a system that suits him really well, true, but I don’t any other point guard in that system with the exception of Paul would be as efficient. Works both ways to me.

  • Stevie B

    Nice Thread…. IMHO TP sits just fine in the “just below great” PG because he lacks the most important skill as a PG, playmaking ability.

    I truly believe that he’s supported by the system in SA, do you guys remember 2-3 years ago where he sometimes benched by Pop for making stupid passes and many other bad decision making?

    There is only one way to make him belong to the top tier guys, win the medal in the next olympics where he will be THE MAN for France national team

  • marcus the great

    i think tony longoria is a good pg but great in the spurs system, jus like nash was in dallas then became great in phx.
    put him somewhere else in the league and he’s more of a score first pg like barbosa, crawford, mike james tho he’s better than them. he is NOT on the level of anthony carter or beno on his worst day

  • dave

    in no order,
    nash
    billups
    paul
    parker
    b. davis

  • PALakerfan

    Kidd can’t shoot, score, and is an average defender at this point in his career.

    Baron, when not in a contract year, is an injury waiting to happen.

    Nash can’t defend ANYONE in the NBA.

    Bottom line, there are only 2 teams in the L that wouldn’t consider trading their point guard for Parker – NO and UTAH. Even Detroit ponders that deal because Billups is much older than Mr. Eva.

  • tealish

    PALakerfan: Factoring age, you’re right even though some people here might crucify you for such blasphemy.

    But I am also pretty sure that teams like PHX and GS won’t trade for Parker – even though they should – because of the love affair their fans have with Nash and BDiddy.

    Speaking strictly in terms of the present day, ignoring the humbling dimension of age, TP’s probably 4th or 5th in the West. Definitely above Kidd, and possibly above Davis as well.

    Throw in the East 1’s, Billups ranks over TP and that’s about it. (Allen Iverson does not count as a point. He’s an enigma, a HOF enigma)

    Let’s be honest here, I don’t like Spurs basketball either but let’s give credit where credit is due. TP can ball, straight up. Don’t let the hatred show your ignorance and give the man his props.

  • Ian

    kowtz
    shit man
    i was gonna stop watching basketball is jason kidd came to the spurs
    if my pg cant score i dont want him who cares how many rebs he can get

    trade parker for nash and outside the three pointers parker would get better numbers

    juanito, jim , dagwaller, rambot idiots

    nash
    paul
    parker
    williams
    billups

    there

  • Camb0dia

    parker is 5th behind
    4thbillups (he controls the game betta)
    3rd nash (hes nashty)
    2nd deron (dude seriously hes 22)
    1st paul top 3 MVP

    Kidd mentions but to me hes slipped, but wouldnt argue if u had him in the top 4

  • vishyvikranth

    I cant understand how u bleeps out der cant recognize talent wen its starin down ur big empty-headed face……..tony parker deserves to be among the top 5 PG’s in the league…..
    No other sport in the world has its fans speak out so riduculously without a speck of truth…hoop fans in the nba stick to their franchises thinkin their players to be the best n never recognize the talent present in other teams….its so irritatin to find so many ppl talkin shit so foolishly….
    TP has been the dominant force for the spurs in the play-offs for the past three seasons…..he averages more dan any other point guard…..he may no hav the assists but tats due to the fact tat (like so many ppl abv hav said) spurs offense rotates arnd TD (n rightly so coz u cr8 offense using all ur options n minimisin the risks)….
    Had TP been on a bigger marketed franchise he woul def hav been hyped n glorified, but de same can b said abt Manu n TD as well…….i dun really care wat bleeps lik u say abt the spurs……dey hav been the best team for the past 10 yrs…..dey play exceptional defense n selfless offense which includes gr8 individual brilliance as well….pity dey dun hav a big market ……..
    It really pains me wen u ignorant fools such as juanito bast$#d post such idiotic statements ….. hav u ever played a hoop game let alone commentin on an MVP……giv TP the total floor control n he will def match CP3 in stats n more so in effectiveness…….TP doesnt hav the assist stats coz the spurs usually pass arnd the perimeter to several players b4 shootin ….. dey hav too many offensive rotational combinations ….no other team has der variety in offense….n dey use der variety which is very sensible….instead of givin the ball to one player n puttin all the pressure on him to perform day in day out (look at wat happened to nash) ….or allow tat player to ruin his teams chances (kobe pre-08)….think str8 b4 postin such idiotic comments in the future……n respect players for der talent n not coz dey come frm another country other dan america…..its high time u realise tat n correct ur narrow-mindedness…
    My TOP 5 -CP3,DW n TP, SN, BD….forget Kidd…hez def past his prime though he can still cr8…n nash too is in kidd’s zone. Thnx for the article!

  • don

    Tony Parker takes over games, he wins championships, he plays within the system designed by his coach. He is 25 years old, and is on pace to be a sure hall a famer. What has Kidd done that is better.

    How about this list, Parker, Billups, Nash, Paul, Williams. Point guards manage a teams offense. Nobodys has done that better than Tony this early in their career