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Thursday, September 29th, 2011 at 10:08 am  |  60 responses

Top 50: Tony Parker, no. 35

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Irv Soonachan / @SidelineOB

Tony Parker has an electric first step, but it’s not the most spectacular. Opponents fear his ability to get into the paint and tear through defenses, but a few others are more dangerous. In 10 years since joining the NBA he’s become an excellent shooter, though mainly from 15 feet in—many have deeper range. There are several point guards who see the floor better. In fact, among point guards of his generation there is one thing and one thing only at which Tony Parker is clearly the best: winning.

Parker wasn’t just the point guard of three Championship teams in San Antonio, he was a core starter and a three-time All-Star during the Spurs’ run. Since entering the NBA as an unknown 19-year-old from France (France!), he has played with increasing fearlessness every spring.

The NBA isn’t the only place he’s been tested, either ¾ he’s led his national team to victory in raucous European arenas, this summer guiding Les Blues to their first Silver Medal at the biennial Eurobasket Tournament since 1949. “He doesn’t get nervous, he just plays,” former teammate David Robinson once noted.

Veteran NBA coach Dick Motta said that you cannot possibly understand the pressure and magnitude of a big, late-series Playoff game until you’ve actually been there, and few have been there more than Parker.

And being among the best—if not quite the very best—at so many things has its advantages, too. Parker is a complete point guard. He can beat you in the paint, he can beat you with a jumper, he will find the open man, and most importantly he usually chooses the right option. Statistically he’s a 50 percent shooter every single year in a league full of point guards who can’t shoot, and every year he puts up solid assist/turnover numbers. He’s also the sparkplug who lifts up the Spurs’ energy level when the veteran team starts to sag.

Coach Gregg Popovich summarized it last season simply by calling Parker the guy who “keeps things copacetic” for a perennial Playoff team.

It wasn’t always this way. Early in his career Parker would hang his head after a poor first half, but now he comes back to attack you. Back then he was also a weak jump shooter, but over the past few years he’s conquered the midrange game and is now looking to improve from distance. If history is any guide, he’ll be drilling threes within a year or two.

It’s a shame that Parker has become better known for his tabloid exploits than his on-court play because as Tim Duncan has faded, the Frenchman has lifted his game to a higher level. On more nights than ever before, the Spurs depend on Parker and Manu Ginobili to get the job done, and on most nights, Parker answers the call.

SLAMonline’s 35th-ranked player in the NBA doesn’t put up the great numbers of those ranked above him, but in the face of the most crushing pressure the NBA has to offer, there are few people you’d rather see bringing the ball up. And there’s no statistic to measure the value of any point guard who can say that.

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Luol Deng Bulls SF 8
49 Andrew Bogut Bucks C 7
48 Ray Allen Celtics SG 9
47 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
46 David West Hornets PF 15
45 Kevin Martin Rockets SG 8
44 Andrew Bynum Lakers C 5
43 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 11
42 Lamar Odom Lakers PF 14
41 Gerald Wallace Blazers SF 7
40 Brook Lopez Nets C 4
39 Joakim Noah Bulls C 3
38 Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 13
37 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 12
36 Eric Gordon Clippers SG 7
35 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • MVPITZKI!!!!!

    WOW! It looks like Jason Terry will be ranked higher than Parker!!!

  • MVPITZKI!!!!!

    WOW! It looks like Jason Terry will be ranked higher than Parker!!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER

    IT LOOKS LIKE JASON TERRY HAS NO BUSINESS ON THIS LIST. ANYWAYS, TONY’S GAME IS.. JUST BEAUTIFUL. HOW HE GETS TO THE RIM IN SUCH A GLIDING FASHION LOOKS SO SMOOTH. HIS ARRAY OF TRICK SHOTS IN THE PAINT IS UNMATCHED. HE RUNS THE TEAM VERY WELL, WHILE ALSO BALANCING IS SCORING ABILITY. HE IS A LEADER, A DIRECTOR, AND A WINNER. IT USED TO BE FUN WATCHING POP ABSOLUTELY RIP INTO TONY WORSE THAN BOB KNIGHT EVER COULD, AND TONY WOULD JUST TAKE IT. POP INSTILLED INCREDIBLE MENTAL TOUGHNESS.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Love this ranking. Tony (like everyone on the Spurs) is just consistently good without the flash or flair. Dude’s a winner and not many point guards can claim that.

  • http://thahiphopcorner.com Kevin

    Put TP in any other system he’d be a top 10 PG. Glad to have him in SA though

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    It’s amazing that a 6-3 PG shoots a higher percentage from the field than most SGs and SFs. Everyone talks about how Starbury and AI are the reason why there are so many shoot-first PGs in the L today but Parker had a role in it as much as those guys.

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER

    TAYLOR, TONY IS 6-1, MAYBE. AND THOSE GUYS CAME IN MUCH EARLIER THAN TONY. AND TONY IS NOT SHOOT FIRST. HE IS ‘DO WHAT POP WANTS FIRST’. SOMETIMES THAT IS TO SCORE, SOMETIMES THAT IS TO FOCUS ON GETTING OTHERS GOING. OF COURSE THEY DEPEND ON HIM TO GET A GOOD AMOUNT OF BUCKETS, BUT ITS NOT LIKE HE DOESNT RUN THE OFFENSE. …..CABOOSE, TONY DOESNT HAVE FLASH OR FLAIR? REALLY?

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Oops, my fault. That makes it even more amazing.
    Also, everyone knows that TP is a scoring PG that lacks elite playmaking skills, so let’s not act like he could avg. 9-10 assists if he wanted to.

  • http://www.listerblister.blogspot.com rainman10

    Great article. But they make him sound a lot better than the number 10 PG, am I right?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    TP has always been a bit underrated IMO. He just gets it done consistently. He’s well rounded and makes smart plays. Most importantly he’s a winner, although playing with TD and Manu helped alot(understatement of the day). On any given night during the Spurs championship runs, he could be the best player on the floor though.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Tony is fearless on his lay-ups. I could watch clips of him doing lay-ups all day!

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER

    TAYLOR, HE COULD AVG 10 ASSISTS A GAME, IF THE OFFENSE WAS SET UP THAT WAY, BUT ITS NOT. ID SAY HE GETS A GOOD AMOUNT OF ASSISTS FOR THE AMOUNT OF PLAYMAKING HE DOES FOR THE TEAM. WITH GEORGE HILL GONE, I DONT DOUBT TONYS ASSISTS WILL GO UP A LIL. HE IS A 20-10 CAPABLE PLAYER.

  • http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/miamiheat/post/_/id/6039/lebron-james-has-a-post-game nbk

    Good spot, & thank goodness he didn’t get put ahead of Manu.

  • http://hoopism.com airs

    whenever i read unfrozen caveman’s comments i’m screaming inside my head.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Funny how whenever the Spurs come up, Tarzan goes from dropping one-liners to dropping knowledge w/ long, analytical comments. Lol
    Parker’s dope, I’m a fan.

  • Ben

    Ginobili.will.be.on this list.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Caveman, stop it, just stop it. Parker’s a very good player but the guy isn’t avg. 10apg in any offense. Do you know how many PGs avg. 10+ assists last season? 3. Even CP didn’t avg. 10. Hell, Bron avgs. more assists per game for his career than Parker.
    Parker has never been a playmaking PG nor could he be. I know the truth hurts.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    Airs, I’m screaming out loud lol
    Love to watch Tony Parkeur drive.

  • http://www.jcolemusic.com Showtime

    Hmmm…I not to keen about this spot 4 him.., so your telling me Tyreke, Curry, Chauncy, are better.. slam no bueno!!!

  • http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/miamiheat/post/_/id/6039/lebron-james-has-a-post-game nbk

    Chauncey Billups better not be on this list.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Showtime, yes, yes, yes.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Why would Chauncey Billups not be on this list? He had a great year last year.

  • http://www.jcolemusic.com Showtime

    @ lake we would just have to disagree, because billups is not half what he use to be, curry is efficient shooter but doest have a motor or defense. & reke is a good slasher , but also no defense or a honest jumper.tp is a winner

  • http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/miamiheat/post/_/id/6039/lebron-james-has-a-post-game nbk

    16PPG, 5.5APG, 42% Shooting with 2.5Turnovers Per. He does not deserve to be apart of this list, name recognition and past accomplishments should not have any barring on this list. And he is not a good enough defender to make up for those numbers. Especially when you consider he was even worse once he got to New York….a place where he should have gotten atleast more efficient.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    I’ve always thought that CB was a better PG than TP. Stats wise that wasn’t always the case, but Billups is just a better leader. TP greatly benefitted from playing with the best PF ever and a great SG among many other good solid pieces.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    His impact goes beyond stats, just like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. leadership is a big factor.

  • ctkennedy

    Tony Parker is too low on the list …top 2 finishin pg in the league(Rose)…Runs a offense to a t…shot selection great…doesnt get kill on D…n is clutch n the 4th …what else u want the pg to do

  • http://www.jcolemusic.com Showtime

    @ wayno i understand where you’re coming from , but are you telling me that Bigshot is a hall-of-famer. Beacuse to be on the list as of now , past your prime every person that has been and will be on here are Hall of fame types: Nash, Paul P, KG, Ray allen, Tim Duncan,etc.. As Tony G Says “Do you qualify” & he just doesn’t.

  • ctkennedy

    If Nash gets in the hall of fame then so should Billups
    u can agrue Nash 2 MVPs
    But Billups won where it matter most PLAYOFFS 7 straight conference finals …2finals apperance …with a ring n FINALS MVP
    is he a little overrated by his nickname
    just like Nash assist numbers is alittle overrated by the system
    Stephen Curry bout to be just like Nash watch look great n the system but just wont win a mvp..Nash only won to change the image of the NBA

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER

    AIRS, BLAME THE OWNERS. RIGO, ITS NOT JUST THE SPURS, BUT WHENEVER ITS SOMETHING I FEEL LIKE DISCUSSING. TAYLOR, YOURE RIGHT, 10 IS TOO HIGH, BUT HE COULD DO MORE THAN HE HAS. IMAGINE IF HE WERE ON A GOLDEN STATE TYPE OF OFFENSE. BILLUPS IS THE MOST OVERRATED PLAYER OF THIS ERA.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    I don’t think you can rule CB out of the HOF discussion. He’s not a 100% lock, but he’s likely going to get in. His numbers never blew anyone’s mind, but he is very good at controlling the pace of games and he’s a great leader. Like I said, he’s one of those guys where you kind of have to look beyond his stats to see his value.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    @ Screaming caveman dude – you clearly haven’t watched him that much if you really believe that…He’s not a perfect player, but he’s very good.

  • http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/miamiheat/post/_/id/6039/lebron-james-has-a-post-game nbk

    If Dennis Johnson and to a lesser extent Joe Dumars made the HOF then Billups will eventually as well. Nash is gonna get in first ballot. Billups gets the most credit for those Pistons championships, when really, all 5 of them were just as important as each other. They wouldn’t have won without Tayshun, Rip, Sheed, Big Ben, or Chauncey. Nash is doing things no PG over the age of 35 has ever done, actually he’s doing things no player has ever done at any age. 50 40 90, led the league in assists 5 of the last 7 years. I mean Nash is far and away a better all time player then Billups, it is not even close.

  • Hum

    first!!

  • davidR

    the way he moves in the lane, he should change his last name to tony “parkour”

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    The fact that Nash has never played defense makes it a lot closer between he and Billups in my book.

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    And that he struggled in a halfcourt, slow it down type offense. While Billups has shown he can run the slowest offense in the League, or go uptempo.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Struggled? His first season starting for the Mavs he averaged 15PPG w/ 7APG and shot 48% from the field and 40% from 3. Those are Billups career averages, except 7% higher from the field, in his first season as a starter. Nash basically didn’t hit his prime till he was 30. Nash has missed the playoffs 1 time since he became a starter (last season, and it sure wasn’t his fault, without him the Suns would have been the Cavs of the West, if not worse)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Oh wait, nope, Billups has only averaged more then 7 assists TWICE in his whole entire career. smh, he is really overrated. And he got worse last season in NY, and so did the Knicks….despite adding two all stars. He has never shown the ability to improve an uptempo team. They got better when they traded him for Iverson, but they also slowed down. — Then when him and Melo left the Nuggets got better, infact Ty Lawson was better per minute then Billups was.

  • Irfan

    I think he should be rated much higher. Top 25. That being said I don’t know who’s gonna be ahead of him. But you have to get that TP is in his prime while Manu & TD are ageing; in SA’s game numbers are diluated and especially assists because he plays with two other good creators & passers (Gino & Duncan) but he now plays with very few flaws in his offensive game. His defence has improved a lot too. If you’ve watched France in the Eurobasket you can see what a leader Tony can be, that’s the role he’ll have to play for his team now.
    I guess he should be ranked higher than Manu Ginobili in that regard.
    I also do not think that the player(s) between Evans, Billups, Stephen Curry, David Lee… who will make the list are better than him now.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Billups isn’t on here. Point guards to come: Tyreke, Nash, Curry, Rondo, Wall, Westbrook, Deron, Paul, Rose. That’s 9. There are 9 PG’s left.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Nash>>Billups. I like Billups, but naw definitely Nash by a wide margin.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Caboose. I hope your right, but I think Tyreke is a 2 guard now.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Lake: Well, there’s 6 SG’s left and I know there’s going to be: Manu, Ellis, Kobe, Wade, Johnson, and possibly Harden. If Rudy Gay is listed as a SG, then the list is even more crowded. Basically, it comes down to Harden vs Billups…

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    ^ Disregard, Iggy is listed as a 2 guard. So yeah, 5 spots for Manu, Ellis, Johnson, Kobe, Wade, Tyreke (?), and Harden to fight for. Tyreke has to be on this list so I think he’ll be a point guard. That knocks Billups out.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Greg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA since Red Auerbach. He’s also best current coach, and one of the great GMs the game has ever seen. His eye for talent–especially when picking out late first-round/second-round gems–is uncanny. Tony being a case in point.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Why would Stephen Curry be ahead of Tony Parker? I don’t think he’s on this list.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    ^Cosign. Though I’d put PJax and Sloan up with Pop too. However, in terms of GM paired with coaching ability, I truly believe Popovich stands alone.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    The Nuggets got better for THAT season in terms of winning percentage after Billups and Melo were traded. They were also beaten in 5 games in the first round after going to the WCF with Billups as their PG two years ago.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    that was @ nbk.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I only said that to show how Billups has not proven he is an elite PG in every system. I realize the nuggets wont be very good next season. Especially cinsidering how many of their minutes now reside in china

  • davidR

    yea, people often talk about how much better the nuggets were when they traded iverson for billups, yet their wins didnt improve by much, and they made it to the WCF cuz they had back to back easy matchups (while those iverson nuggets ran into the spurs & lakers in the 1st round, AND didn’t have reliable big men besides camby)

  • Armando

    Close between Nash and Billups? Come on. To say that Nash’s stats is a result of the system, is like saying Magic was a result of the system. Both ENABLED their teams to play those systems. The Lakers even played at a higher pace than Nash’s Suns, and it wasn’t like Magic handled the ball less than what Nash do (not saying their at the same level, Magic’s the best, but Nash is top 10 all time at the 1). IMO Nash is the 4th best PG in the league and will be next season as well with Rondo and Westbrook behind him (not far behind, but still behind). If anyone want’s to argue that they’re better, well OK, but don’t just list ppg and apg, percentages count, and Nash never ages… only using the easiest understandable stats you could say that Monta is better than Kobe and Humphries is at the same level as Tyson Chandler… it’s more complicated than that…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Steve Nash always has been and is still a terrible defender…offense isn’t everything kids.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    ^Who said otherwise Wayno?

  • Drig

    Top 10 PG of all time?

    Magic (Showtime)
    Oscar (Big O and the walking triple double)
    Isiah
    Stockton
    Frazier
    Kidd
    Payton
    Cousy ( One guy I never did see…..in any form but his stats sure are great….. and 8 chips do help )
    Archibald
    AI XD and CP3 soon:P

    Basically, it’d come down to Kevin Johnson vs Nash……Defense……

  • Drig

    By stats I meant accomplishments with regards to Cousy.

  • Armando

    Co-sign LakeShow… revolutionary comment Wayno… Nash > Tiny, KJ, Wilkens… (Magic wasn’t a good defender either). KJ was a better defender than Nash, but a flat out bad shooter for a guard and wasn’t near Nash in the “controlling-a-game-department” (I’m old enough to remember him btw)and again, don’t let the stats fool you into believing he is an all time great (look up Fat Lever for a “great stats, not great but pretty good player reference”). KJ played for some pretty good Suns teams, but Nash has never had a Barkley caliber player on his team either. KJ was indeed very good, but belongs in the next tier after Magic, Oscar*, Stockton, Zeke, Frazier*, Cooz*, Kidd, Payton, Nash and Tiny. (*I never saw these guys, but based on accomplishments…).

  • Rainman

    i cant believe this was even discussed lol…but Nash >>>>>>>>>>>Billups. WAAYY wide MArgin.

    Also, Armando above me jsut listed the top 10 PG’s pretty much there

    1. Magic.
    2.Oscar(for me personally, Stockton second…best pure PG ever to me)
    3.Stockton
    4.Isiah
    5.Frazier
    6Cousy
    7.Kidd
    8.Payton
    9.Nash
    10.Tiny.

    Although to me, by the end of his career he’ll surpass PAyton(Even tho payton was a more complete player, Nash playing so great for as long as he has, he’s only going up, c’mon ppl) And eventually Guys liek CP3 if all goes well, will enter the top 10 as well.

  • http://slamonline 3kings

    so why is tyreke higher??? I think thats bs. parker is way better and way underated

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