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How Good is Tony Parker?

By 03.31.08

We’ve seen a shakeup in the NBA’s point guard hierarchy this year. Back in October/November, if you’d asked anyone who the top two PG’s in the League were, it would, in some order, undoubtedly be Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. Four months later, Chris Paul has taken over #1 on most lists, with — depending on which day you ask — anyone from Nash to Deron Williams to Baron Davis to Chauncey Billups to Kidd taking the #2 and #3 spots.

Here’s my question: Where does that leave Tony Parker? Whether it’s blind hatred of the Spurs or not, most people I’ve talked to put Parker firmly at the back of that first pack, only slightly above Rajon Rondo and Jose Calderon on the second tier. To me, that’s crazy.

From a pure talent standpoint, Parker (18.5 ppg, 5.8 apg) deserves at least first-tier mention. He might be faster than any starting PG in the game (Paul and Kidd come close), he runs his team’s system almost to perfection, he finishes in the lane probably better than any small guard, and he has one dependable go-to move (the floater). And the most important part: Parker has three championship rings and a Finals MVP trophy to his name.

The knocks against Parker that I hear most are that he plays with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (and plays for the best coach in the League), his jumper isn’t reliable, and his assist numbers are low. The counter-arguments? Coattail-riders don’t win Finals MVP’s or take over games when Duncan is out or having a bad night; Parker’s mid-range J is money, even if his three-ball isn’t Michael Redd-ish; and the Spurs system isn’t one that makes for a lot of assists from the point guard. Put Nash in Gregg Popovich‘s system and he tops out at 7 or 8 dimes a night. Likewise, TP could average 10 dimes per easy if he played in Phoenix.

Whenever I’m asked for a Top-5 or Top-10 list of point guards, I can never put Parker any lower than 5th because of his overall success. Those six aforementioned players? One ring between them (Billups), and Kidd is the only other one to even make a Finals appearance. At the end of the day, this whole thing is about winning, and no active point guard one has won more than Tony Parker.


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