With Tony Parker out with a sprained ankle, many people wondered how the San Antonio Spurs would fair over however long their star point guard is sidelined. After all, Parker is averaging 21 points and 7.6 assists per game, both of which lead the Spurs. In their first game with Parker not in uniform, the Spurs seemed to not skip a beat as they trounced the Detroit Pistons, 114-75.
After much speculation over how the Spurs would replace Parker at the point guard position, head coach Gregg Popovich elected to roll with a quartet of young point guards: Cory Joseph, Patty Mills, Gary Neal and Nando de Colo. None of the four guards played more than 18 minutes in the game.
As a unit, the quartet combined to score 24 points on 10-22 shooting and added a combined 13 assists and four steals. Obviously, none of the guards were as effective as Parker would have been individually, especially considering the tear that he’s been on over the last month or so, but they proved that they could be serviceable options in Parker’s absence.
The game against the Pistons and the combined effort of these four young guards shows that many people who questioned how the Spurs would fair without Parker underestimated the savvy of Popovich. There’s a reason that he’s widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the NBA. His team functions on a well-oiled system with interchangeable parts. Even if a star is sitting out, the Spurs are still able to be effective.
It can’t be forgotten that Detroit is one of the teams in the lower-tier of the league and a better test of how San Antonio can play without Parker will come on Wednesday when they face the Chicago Bulls. However, it seems as though Popovich has everything in place to where the Spurs will barely miss a beat without their star point guard.