Tony Parker is a 3-time NBA champion, an NBA finals MVP, a 6-time NBA All-Star and has been named to the All-NBA 2nd team for the last two years. His career numbers are 17.1 ppg, 6.0 apg and 3.0 rpg on 49.5% FG shooting. He’s averaging basically the same numbers this season thru 60 games for the San Antonio Spurs. He’s never been a top tier pick in the fantasy basketball world, but he’s always added solid points, assists and FG% contributions to any team. But going into the final quarter of the 2014 season, many fantasy basketball owners will only be frustrated with having Tony Parker in their lineup.
The Spurs are currently 2nd in the Western Conference, 1.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. They lead the Southwest Division and are 2.5 games ahead of the 2nd ranked Houston Rockets and 7 games in front of the 3rd ranked Dallas Mavericks.
Definitely San Antonio wants to finish on top in the West, or the entire league for that matter, but Gregg Popovich is taking everything into consideration. The Spurs obviously have the older core starting with Tim Duncan, who is 37 years-old, Manu Ginobili, who is 36, and Parker, who is 31. For the Thunder, only Derek Fisher, Nick Collison and newly acquired Caron Butler are over 30 years of age. So while they will go for the chase, Pop won’t force his stars to wear out just to get the #1 seed. This is because whether they end up 1st or 2nd, they will have to go through OKC to get to the finals most likely no matter what, and for a veteran team like the Spurs, home court advantage is not as important as health.
It’s almost a certainty that the Spurs will win the Southwest division with only Houston to stave off. Dallas is a longshot at 6 games behind, and the Rockets have the 5th toughest remaining schedule in the league based on opponents winning percentage (source: playoffstatus.com) while the Spurs have the 9th. Hence, while Houston still has the mathematical chance of catching up with the Spurs, not many people are expecting that to happen.
So what’s the point here? Although San Antonio is looking at the top, they might strategize and “settle” for the 2nd spot in the West. Their priority is to keep Duncan, Ginobili and Parker fresh for the title run, and this means Pop is going to sit them out in games or minimize their playing time at the very least. So less playing time means less stats for Tony Parker and fantasy basketball owners.
Parker’s suffered multiple injuries this season. He’s missed 11 of 60 games thus far, but what’s alarming is that he’s played in only 4 of their last 10 games. He missed 7 games in the month of February alone. Aside from the fact that Parker is the driver of the Spurs’ offense, which depreciates his 31 year old body after mid-season, he also played 11 games for France in their 2013 FIBA Europe conquest during the NBA offseason. To know surprise, Tony Parker was MVP of that tournament. So coming into this season, Parker was not really as fresh as the Spurs wanted him to be. Now that the season is near it’s end, it’s time to preserve whatever is left of that body for the title chase.
What has rest done to Tony Parker this season? With a 3 day rest, Parker’s had his highest scoring average at 20.1ppg. With a 2 day rest, he’s had better assists and rebound averages as well. So don’t question Popovich if he sits out Parker in some (maybe more?) of their remaining games. The stats prove him correct on resting Parker.
Parker was having a typical Tony Parker season before the injuries started piling up. He was playing at an All-Star level with 17.7 ppg, 6.2 apg and 2.3 rpg while shooting 50% from the field. In his last 10 games, he’s only posted averages of 12.3 ppg, 5.0 apg and 2.0 rpg while shooting 43% from the field.
His career playing time is 32 minutes per game, but he’s down to 25 mpg in the last 10 games, 6 of which he missed.
The decrease in stats is mostly due to the decrease in his minutes and the games he’s missed, but he’s also taken just one less shot per game after the All-Star break, meaning he’s taken almost the same number of shots. The decrease in FG percentage to 43% is a sign that he is tired, or that he is hurt, perhaps even both, which doesn’t bode well for fantasy basketball owners down the stretch.
The Spurs are currently in the upper echelon of the league standings. They have a shot at winning another NBA title. However, their main concern is keeping that core fresh and healthy come playoff time. Because this could be their final run at the trophy.
Tony Parker is playing through injuries and is already banged up. It’s a fact that Popovich will rest him as much as he can to finish the regular season. Parker needs it too.
And why not? The Spurs are out to win the NBA title, not a fantasy league, which can certainly be frustrating for fantasy basketball owners.