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Sunday, September 26th, 2010 at 1:00 pm  |  27 responses

Top 50: Tony Parker, no. 30

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Dennis Tarwood / @tuffyr

How did you spend your summer vacation?  A little light reading?  Scrubbing ducks on the seashore?  Stuffing your mattress with canned goods in preparation for the economic apocalypse part deux?

Tony Parker spent his summer being lectured about the proper amount of hand-holding.  That’s what happens when you miss your first summer away from the French boys in six yeaTony Parkerrs to spend more time with the family and to heal up from the most miserable season of your professional career thus far.

2010-2011 needs to hold far more success for the 28-year-old if he plans to avoid his own economic collapse as he cannonballs into the free agency pool just in time for America Held Hostage: Just About Every Damned Sports League Shuts Down Over Petty Nonsense.  Despite the turmoil to come, this will likely represent the final major payday in Parker’s lifetime.

If he’s successful this season, the last twelve months will be scrubbed from the collective consciousness as an aberration.  His sharply reduced assists, excessive turnovers, and slightly less efficient shooting touch will be ascribed to his sprained ankle, strained hip flexor, broken right hand, and other miscellaneous witchcraft that kept him out of 26 games.

If his offensive performances against the Suns in the Western Conference Semis (three 20+ point games, 5 apg) serve as a guide, Eva Longoria can continue to socking acting cash away in her $15,000 security mattress.

However, small sample sizes aside, those numbers came largely against noted bullfighter Steve Nash (“Olé!”).  Parker returned the favor to Nash (22 ppg, 7+ apg, 5-11 3-pt) and all other foes he gamely attempted to defend last season.

Watching tape on Parker from 2009-2010 is like watching the Westminster Dog Show with every opposing point guard playing the role of dog handlers pulling him through all the pick-and-roll obstacles on the way to the hoop.  (Note to San Antonio: consider Fred Willard as your color man this season.)

While his assists, turnovers, and Offensive Rating last season clearly stand out against his previous few seasons, Parker’s defensive results last season (as measured by Defensive Rating, which kindly forgives days off) are clearly part of a consistent decline difficult to write off as post-injury fatigue or lingering random pain.

Has Parker lost a step while playing around 100 games per season over the last six years (including national team duties, preseason, etc.) and after starting his professional career at 17?  After all, he has managed to miss at least 10 games for each of the last three seasons due to issues up and down his left side.

It’s indeed possible, but consider another fact: Tim Duncan is 34 years old and starting to show it.

Duncan’s blocks (adjusted for pace) and Defensive Rating have lost ground year-over-year for the last four seasons, much like Parker’s Defensive Rating.  Parker might be slipping against other point guards, but he’s definitely not being bailed out as much anymore by the Merlin Wall.  Parker probably hopes Tiago Splitter abandons his solid low-post defense in favor of filing the permits at San Antonio City Hall to host his own block party.

Parker’s offensive counting numbers will suffer a bit next season as well due to the growth of George Hill and the hope placed on Garrett Temple.  (Just don’t ask Pop how much.)   However, as long as Parker retains his lesson from last season that the perimeter is hot lava and the lane is the safesies zone, he probably won’t harm his offensive value in the eyes of prospective employers.

Parker continues to be defined by others in his adulthood: Duncan, Popovich, Longoria.  When his current contract expires, though, he will receive his first true opportunity to establish his own identity by selecting a new team where others can wrap themselves around his needs.

Therefore, he doesn’t play this season just for financial security; he must stay thrive to regain his status as a premier free agent and claim some semblance of control over his own destiny.  Otherwise, another round of injuries could force him to take whatever is offered by the Spurs and remain Tim Duncan’s point guard.

That next employer might well be the Knicks (for who ignores facts as well as Jimmy Dolan?), but Parker seems confident enough that a deal will be done with the Spurs that he plans to play for the French national team again next summer to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics despite potentially being a free agent.

It’s that or spend another summer forced to hold Eva Longoria’s hand.  After all, he’ll always be Mr. Longoria; some redefinitions aren’t worth the trouble.

(Statistics from Basketball-Reference)

SLAMonline TOP 50 PLAYERS OVERALL RANK POSITION RANK
Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 11 10
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 10 9
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 9 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 8 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR
Stephen Curry Warriors PG 35 NR 10 NR
David Lee Warriors PF 34 NR 10 NR
Brook Lopez Nets C 33 NR 2 NR
Gerald Wallace Bobcats SF 32 NR 6 NR
Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 31 29 7 8
Tony Parker Spurs PG 30 15 9 3

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • JTaylor21

    One of my favorite players, dude is just a straight up whirlwind daredevil and still possesses the same speed he had years ago. What’s funny and shameful is that he’s finishes better in the paint than a player twice he’s size; DHow. Now what does that say about both players; you decide.

  • Ronald

    Agreed with JTaylor. TP’s ability to finish is uncanny. Not many players ever have had the same ability to finish of layups.

  • http://nicekicks.com meloman2.0

    Every tony parker piece i’ve ever read from SLAM somehow finds a way to mention Eva

  • Overtime

    TP, he isnt as aged and declined as most people make out.
    However, I would definitely pick Ginobili over Parker any day

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    tough call. i want to agree with overtime, but like dennis pointed out, it’s a contract year for tony.

  • J_Paco

    Parker’s defensive play has slipped, but he’s still one of the better defenders on the Spurs. It also doesn’t help him that he averaged less than a steal a game last season. We’ll see if he can return to being a good defender next season, although that’s difficulty when he’s defending the deepest and best position in the entire league.

    I don’t see what’s wrong with Parker being in the “shadow” of one of the 10 greatest players in NBA history. I’m sure Worth isn’t complaining about being in Magic’s “shadow,” McHale and Parish probably have no issue having been in Larry’s and Pippen is probably very grateful that he played alongside Michael Jordan. Well, I’m certain that Parker and Ginobili – who both are in Duncan’s supposed “shadow” – have no issue with Timmy and what they’ve accomplished together. I’m sure if Parker leaves S.A. it’ll have more to do with finding a city where he can continue to win and won’t have anything to do with find an identity.

  • clayton

    article spent more time bashing him then justifying his spot at number 30.

  • Dmon

    Nothing new, TP is one of the most underated player of the league! One bad/injured season and people forget the killer he can be.
    The guy is ONLY 28… (and can only get better in many areas even IF he looses some speed)

  • David

    i agree with clayton. kind of seems hard to justify getting the 30 spot when the articles for everyone from #31-50 were a lot more positive.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Luuuv the man’s game, he was like a beast unleashed in the 08/09 season (a 55&10 statline against Minny for example), but he just never reclaimed that level of dominance last season, and his injuries (which started in the summer runup to the Euro Championships in Poland, where he still killed every challenger btw.) seemed to drain his confidence a bit. Hope he gets his mojo back, cause Tony Toni Toné sure is one of the best.

  • twinparadox

    @meloman2.0: dude it’s eva…how can you NOT mention her?
    But like most everyone says, why do I feel that this is not an article for someone who is No. 30 on this list? Other than the jokes about him and eva almost everything else is just a stab at him.

  • hammer

    I’ve said it b4. Dudes 28 but it seems like he’s 32

  • http://www.twitter.com/HurstySYD Hursty

    Holy sh*t!
    Tony Parker was rated as the 3rd best PG coming into last year (2009)? Whaaaaat?

  • http://scott.r.carter10@gmail.com Scott Carter

    My top 29:

    1) Lebron James, 2) Kobe Bryant, 3) Kevin Durant, 4) Dwyane Wade, 5) Chris Paul, 6) Dwight Howard, 7) Deron Williams, 8) Carmelo Anthony, 9) Joe Johnson, 10) Derrick Rose, 11) Brandon Roy, 12) Chris Bosh, 13) Rajon Rondo, 14) Amare Stoudemire, 15) Dirk Nowitzki, 16) Tim Duncan, 17) Carlos Boozer, 18) Rudy Gay, 19) Danny Granger, 20) Pau Gasol, 21) Andre Iguodala, 22) Steve Nash, 23) Al Jefferson, 24) Tyreke Evans, 25) Aaron Brooks, 26) Chauncey Billups, 27) Kevin Martin, 28) Paul Pierce, 29) Stephen Jackson.

  • Tommy

    truely agree with overtime i would take ginobili over parker anytime even though ginobili is much older he seems much younger than mr.longoria

  • http://www.reboundghana.com mtee

    JTaylor21..do u have to always mention Dwight in comments…please stop hating…damn it!

  • RoG23

    Spurs can win another ring without TP, GHill on the FAAAST rise! But SA wont win another ring, in this era, without Manu.

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