Tony Parker is a stellar player. The San Antonio Spurs point guard is a strong scorer and a good distributor. His inside scoring ability remains high. However, despite all of his positive qualities, Parker isn't the type of player who can carry a team on his back.
With Parker, there's little room between fantastic games and bad games. He scored 20 or more points 26 times this season. He had 17 games in which he shot 55 percent or better from the field. Also, he had 12 double-doubles.
That he was able to put up so many nights of great production is wonderful.
However, his bad games were noticeable. Of the 15 games in which he shot worse than 40 percent from the field, Parker shot 30 percent or worse in eight of those games.
Sometimes, Parker's high scoring games came with extra turnovers. In six of his 26 20-point games, Parker committed five or more turnovers.
Parker led the team in scoring with 18.3 points per game and was the only player to average over 30 minutes per game. He was one of only four Spurs to average double figures in scoring, although five more averaged at least nine points per game.
The playoffs showed an even greater imbalance, as he, Duncan and Manu Ginobili were the only ones to average double figures in scoring.
Parker has pushed an aging core with high energy and precise management. However, the last three games of the Western Conference Finals showed that he was slipping. He struggled to convert shots, hitting five of 15 in Game 4, five of 14 in Game 5 and 12 of 27 in Game 6.
The burden became too much for Parker, who took 32 percent of San Antonio's shots in Game 6.
The Spurs will have to show in the offseason that they recognize that Parker can't carry a team offensively. They have three key players entering free agency in Tim Duncan, Gary Neal and Danny Green.
The Spurs should see Duncan return for another year or two to finish his career, since Duncan told the San Antonio Express-News that he considers himself a "Spur for life."
Neal and Green both averaged between nine and 10 points per game this season while shooting better than 40 percent from three-point range. Both will likely be cheap players to retain in the offseason.
The Spurs will have to rely more on free agency and building from within their roster than the draft this offseason, since their only draft pick is the next to last pick of the draft.
They have some players who could grow into scoring roles, such as Neal and Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs could see significant growth in Leonard if he receives more minutes. Leonard averaged 7.9 points per game in the regular season and 8.6 per game in the playoffs. He had four games with more than 15 points in the playoffs.
Hopefully, the Spurs will be able to develop scorers in the coming years. Duncan has shown in the last three years that he can't carry a scoring load like he used to. Ginobili can't get the job done as often as he once could, especially with his ailing body. Parker can't be this strong for much more than a year or two.
The Spurs have remained a top-tier team in the Western Conference by plugging guys in. They'll have to take someone—likely from their own roster—and plug him into a key scoring role to assist Parker.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!