The San Antonio Spurs simply cannot stay completely healthy. Gary Neal has been out for quite some time and now that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are completely healthy, Tony Parker goes down with a sprained ankle in a 28-point blowout win over the Sacramento Kings. However, this could be a blessing in disguise for the Spurs, who are trying to get their younger players more involved in anticipation of fatigue in the playoffs by their older stars. The Spurs should kill two birds with one stone by leaving Parker sidelined for the entire month of March.
Although San Antonio is one of the NBA‘s most balanced teams, Parker is the undisputed leader and top player on the roster. He leads the Spurs in scoring and assists and has developed into a surefire NBA MVP candidate this season. For that reason, the Spurs absolutely cannot rush Parker back from injury, and they won’t because they’re smart. However, they would be wise to give him a lot of extra rest so he’s completely healthy before he comes back and so the younger players will be forced to take on more responsibility.
Kawhi Leonard hasn’t required any push to become a part of the Big Four for the Spurs, but Danny Green and Neal are still pretty streaky. While both players are superb at times, they disappear at others, which isn’t completely their fault, but it can be cured by Parker missing time since they both play in the backcourt and especially when Parker needs a breather, which isn’t very often. Neal obviously won’t be on the floor either, so now Green will get his chance to shine with Nando De Colo and Patty Mills handling the ball in Parker’s absence.
Those two backup point guards are also in need of some coaxing to really come out of their shells. Each player has been superb at times this season, but their minutes on the floor have been limited. Parker’s injury (although not good in any way) actually came at a perfect time if it had to because these younger, inexperienced players can get used to the lime light before the playoffs start.
If there’s an NBA coach who can get younger players ready to go before crunch time, it’s Gregg Popovich and if there’s a coach who can rally his team without a star on the floor, he fits the bill for that as well. The Spurs are in good shape with a lead in the Western Conference, so now is a perfect time to get these young players ready to go for the postseason.