After the news broke that San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker would be out for the “foreseeable future”, the ambiguity of the statement had most trying to speculate if and when Parker would be back. According to recent reports, Parker is on track to return no later than Sunday when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Alamo City. But has the rest period been long enough for the worn out guard?
After last year’s disappointing loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, Parker took part in an 11-game stretch to achieve championship status in the EuroBasket Tournament for the French National team. After that grueling summer well spent, the 31-year old veteran returned to a Spurs team that was one year older as well. The added mileage has not stopped Parker from averaging a team high 30.9 minutes a game, despite missing the last five games due to a “variety of maladies”.
The motor of the San Antonio offense has been just that for the latter part of the last few seasons, carrying the weight of production on his shoulders and balancing the slow digression of Tim Duncan. Popovich has clearly given the reigns over to the 13-year veteran and allows him to create offense off of Duncan’s numerous screens. And that toll of relatively new responsibility has just plain worn Parker out.
The facts are that the Spurs are not in a desperate position in which they absolutely need Parker to play. They are 4-1 in his five game absence and the return of Kawhi Leonard will be a major lift to the Spurs’ overall play. The elevation of Patty Mills‘ game can be credited to the increase in minutes played because of Parkers rest. Understudies such as Corey Joseph, are getting beneficial in-game experience that many young players around the league do not have the opportunity to take advantage of. And this type of preparation will reap benefits in playoff situations.
With an upcoming schedule including the Charlotte Bobcats and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Spurs should not be in any rush to bring back Parker. The veteran experience and court leadership will be evident once the superstar point guard returns, but for now the Spurs have the pieces to compete.