Tony Parker is 28
Earlier this summer, someone published a why-the-Spurs-will-stink preview that included the statement that Tony Parker was “past his prime” as part if its argument. NBA.com is currently running an article under the title, “These players could be looking at a big decline this season“. Â The article includes Tony Parker in its list of (potentially) declining stars, although its author takes a moderating approach in his discussion of Parker.
Meanwhile, Tony Parker has spent much of his summer working on his game with Spurs coach Chip Engelland, carefully following an intense summer regimen designed by the Spurs coaching staff.
Tony Parker is a 28 year old NBA All-Star heading into a contract year — talk of decline seems silly, at best.
Tony Parker is coming off a bad season, but it was also a season when he was hampered by injury from first to last, and those injuries were exacerbated by the emergence of George Hill. In other words, even when healthy, Parker’s role was shifting beneath his feet. It’s surprising he played as well as he did.
Players get injured. Numbers decline. That’s the way it goes. But when said players are 28 with only one subpar season in their history, it’s premature to park a hearse outside the practice facility. In fact, in the case of Parker, one could just easily put together an argument that his best basketball is ahead of him. If we’reÂ identifyingÂ outliers in Parker’s career, last season comes complete with an “Outlier” badge pinned to its lapel.
2009-10 wasn’t a trend, it was anÂ aberration. Prior to last season, the trend with Parker was up, up, up. Two season’s ago, he was one of the best players in the league.
Parker’s summer regiment is one of many indicators that the Spurs expect to improve from within this season. Â How hard is it to imagine Tony Parker, George Hill, DeJuan Blair, Garrett Temple and Alonzo Gee playing better basketball this season. Who isn’t expecting Blair and Hill to take the proverbial next step during the upcoming campaign?
And this without discussion of Tiago Splitter, James Anderson, Gary Neal and Richard Jefferson Year 2.
The Spurs are improved, except for the sobering reality that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are a year older, and each of them was already an old man in basketball years. Â But even this hard truth works in Parker’s favor.
When needed, Parker is able to pick up the slack on offense. The Spurs may want him to assert himself early to prevent Duncan and Ginobili from carrying anÂ unnecessarilyÂ heavy burden prior to the All-Star break.
There is also this: if Tony Parker comes screaming out of the gate, the Spurs will get better trade offers for their All-Star, 28 year old, former Finals MVP point guard. Â In short, Tony Parker is more likely to break out than decline this season. Â The smart bet says his October through February numbers will rival his career highs. It’s the one scenario in which everyone wins.