Popovich, Parker, and Spurs Point Guards

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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.  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.  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.  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.  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?  And, while you’re at it, ask the same things of Marcus Williams. Consider this our first training camp talking point.

  • Sean

    Isn’t Tony a little bit young to be sitting out games during the regular season?

    It’s a different story if he has an injury he hasn’t fully recovered from, but the guy is only 27.

    I know he’s been playing international ball over the summer, but so have a lot of other NBA players and I doubt any of them will be “resting” during the regular season. (e.g. Pau Gasol)

    I’m all for taking him out early in blow-outs, but resting him for entire games doesn’t make sense to me.

    Save the DNP’s for the old men!

  • http://atxsports.net Andrew A McNeill

    One of the things I’m most excited about this season is the depth that this Spurs team should have. Look at the depth chart it appears this will be a very deep team. Whether it actually is is another story.

    A second talking point for this year’s training camp is who will be this year’s defensive stopper? I know Richard Jefferson has said he wants to take on that role, but it’s not something I’ve seen from him whenever I’ve watched him. But maybe being the fourth option on the team provides him the freedom to focus on defense.

  • 09.20.21.50

    Missing the point Sean,

    As Tim eloquently stated, it’s not just an issue of rest. By sitting Tony out, George and Marcus gain valuable NBA minutes.

    The regular season is merely a warm up for May and June; it’s an opportunity to tweak and nurture our roster.

  • 09.20.21.50

    Andrew,

    I remember Pop assigning George on Kobe last year. Possibly more of that.. or was that just a teaching opportunity?

  • lvmainman

    Marcus Williams as a 6’7″ 3rd point guard? Are you serious? Slow as Boris Diaw? Ball handling no better than Mason?

    I’d much rather rely on Ginobili and Mason as a 3rd option at point. Or just pickup a free agent or trade for a Antonio Daniels, Chucky Atkins or Speedy Claxton type.

    Marcus Williams, in my opinion, doesn’t cut it as a 3rd point guard option, period.

  • errin

    Marcus Willaims is a perfect addition for us as the 3rd pg we all know Tony is a stud and g. hill is a good back-up to him but if Marcus Willaims can contribute he could be great for us mainly on the defensive end b/c he can guard 3 positions and still run the point effectively.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    Ivmainman,

    You might be right, but I’m willing to let Pop have a few weeks before making those determinations.

  • zack

    did you guys get a chance to read kg’s comments on his approach heading into camp, kg stated“I’m going full-blast,’’ he said. “I don’t think when you get in camp you go [less than all-out] or anything like that. maybe im looking to far into this, but it seemed like he was mocking the tim duncan approach, you would think kg would be smarter than that, seeing the severity of his injury, just glad we have nothing to do w/ a guy like that

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    Zack,

    I doubt he had Duncan in mind. I think they’re friendly with one another. It just seems like KG’s personality coming through. His approach is a bit much sometimes, but he’s a full-throttle guy.

  • buns

    About TP’s “youth”, it might be usefull to remind ourselves that age doesn’t reflect mileage.
    Tony has been playing pro ball since his 16′s. And I’m not even iterating what he did nearly all summers since then.

  • NL

    I could see George Hill developing into a Trevor Ariza type player for us this year. Not putting up huge stats but doing the intangibles, playing lock down defense, and coming up with big impact plays here and there that change the outlook of a game.

    Maybe that’s a bit optimistic, but I’m all right with that.

  • Rye

    If Parker sits out the odd regular season game, I still doubt you’d see Williams play much. Instead, you’d probably see Hill playing extended minutes with Mason playing more point (probably in tandem with Ginobili) as well, which would open up minutes for a veteran like Bogans at the two. As of right now, he figures to be the fifth wing. I’d be surprised to see Williams or Mahinmi play much this season.

  • Jones

    If Ian isn’t in the rotation then I wonder if he’ll even be on the team. I’m very curious to see how high the Spur’s coaching staff have set their expectations for Ian for training camp.

    Also, I’m very curious how Marcus Williams looks. More specifically, if he doesn’t excel at the point but plays well in other ways, how will he compare to Hairston? And which player do they choose? Of course neither will play much this year but this could be planting the seed for them to be role players down the road when Avery is coaching the team. Ha!

  • http://espn.com Jacob

    I feel fairly certain that no matter what scenario the Spurs play with, Mason will not remain a point guard option. He forced too much, too soon and looked uncomfortable in that position last year to maintain the Spurs’ confidence. If anything Ginobili, who has already proven his capabilities in moving the ball up the court, will take on some extra duties. Barring any disasterous circumstances this season, I see Rog taking it easy behind the arc where he shines. Just my 2 cents…
    Hey Jonsey, how’s Dell life treatin’ you?

  • Bentley

    I’m all for the idea that Tony gets rest and the younger guys like Hill get more playing time. I would assume that Hill is a better point guard then Williams, and hopefully Hill will improve on his point guard skills, since he really was a 2 in college.

    I think there’s a good chance Marcus Williams could win the 3rd point guard spot, but I haven’t really seen him play much so I can’t be too sure.

  • http://myspurslink.blogspot.com Robby

    Smart move… This will give the Spurs a better feel on who makes the cut. Marcus Williams from what I’ve read can really play the point, translating it to the NBA is a different story… I guess we just have to wait and see…

  • Crow

    Resting Parker now or in the regular season is fine.

    Gotta have him fresh in the playoffs. No chance without him doing well then. And against the Lakers he prbably has to be the MVP. Gotta burn the Lakers at PG to win.