Popovich, Parker, and Spurs Point Guards
One of the noteworthy discussion points from yesterday’s media session is the news that Tony Parker will sit out the first few weeks of camp, with the exception of shooting drills and strength conditioning.
This, of course, is Gregg Popovich in fine manager-of-minutes form, a role he’s performed with great success in previous seasons. Tony Parker went through the same process at the start of last season. Lots of time with the strength coach, and not much time on the court.Â It’s a good formula for a veteran player who spent the summer slogging through an international tournament.
While it would be nice for Parker to develop chemistry with the Spurs’ new additions, players such as Antonio McDyess and Richard Jefferson, Parker’s absence from early camp scrimmages should mean extended minutes at point guard for George Hill.
George Hill is still learning to direct a team, but looked remarkably improved in that respect during summer league.Â Giving him extended preseason minutes with the first team should prove invaluable as the season progresses. This sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it as straightforwardly as possible: George Hill’s ability to contribute meaningful minutes is critical if the team hopes to advance against its best opponents.Â The ability to overcome the Lakers, Trailblazers, Cavs, Magic, and Celtics takes root early and grows throughout the season.
Parker’s prolonged offseason will provide the Spurs with an opportunity to see Marcus Williams at point, as well.Â There isn’t much give in the current roster. If Williams can merit serious consideration as a reserve point guard, he ought to make the team. But more importantly, the Spurs’ backcourt will be deep and flexible, providing Pop with match- up options he’s never had as the team’s coach.
This is something we’ll discuss in more detail going forward, but a reliable third point guard gives the Spurs security if they decide to rest Parker in some back-to-back scenarios. In the long run, that’s best for the team. It keeps their stars–in this case, Parker–rested and healthy, and it provides their young players the minutes they need to develop.
So here is something to examine once the exhibition season starts: How does George Hill look at point? Does his body language exude the confidence needed to run this team? Is he comfortable in pick and roll situations? Does he assert himself in the offense?Â And, while you’re at it, ask the same things of Marcus Williams. Consider this our first training camp talking point.