Why Tony Parker Is Still NBA's Most Underrated Player

Justin HussongContributor IIIFebruary 28, 2013

SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs in action against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on February 19, 2013 in Sacramento, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Once again the San Antonio Spurs are sitting pretty in their familiar perch atop the Western Conference standings. At 45-13, the Spurs are so predictable that it's boring at this point. It is expected for them to be amongst the best records in the league regardless of any extenuating circumstances around the team.

They receive little publicity because it is the same thing every year. This is just what they do. The little publicity they do receive would attribute much of their success this season to Tim Duncan's resurgence or yet another astounding coaching job by Gregg Popovich. Although they both deserve their credit, this is not the case.

At the age of 30, Tony Parker is quietly getting better and better. With three NBA championships and a Finals MVP on his resume, Parker still gets more notoriety for his divorce from actress Eva Longoria amid allegations of infidelity and his offseason run-in with Drake and Chris Brown. His otherworldly play is still looked at as a byproduct of a beautiful system being run in San Antonio.

Tony Parker deserves to be right at the top of any MVP talks this year with LeBron James and Kevin Durant. At 21.1 points and 7.6 assists per game, Parker has seen his scoring, assists and free-throw percentage increase each of the past four seasons while his turnovers have decreased each season.

Parker is shooting a remarkable .536 percent from the field, which is good for a center. For a point guard, it is unprecedented. He is the one that allows Popovich to rest the aging Duncan and Manu Ginobili from time to time in order to keep them healthy for the postseason. Pop can think nothing of it because he knows Parker will step up. It isn't a question, it is a formality.


Parker has been scalding hot as of late, averaging 26.6 points per game in the month of February on 55 percent shooting. It is hard to believe how little attention he receives for his efforts. The conversation is always brought up of top point guards in the NBA and his name just manages to slip by.

The Frenchman is racking up quite the accolades in his Hall of Fame bid. The three rings and Finals MVP are noteworthy as it is, but Parker has never missed the playoffs in his career and has become such a force in this league that he doesn't even get the credit he deserves.

His passing may not be as flashy as Chris Paul's. He may not have the tantalizing ball-handling skills that Kyrie Irving possesses. He may not play lockdown defense like Rondo or sky to the rim for jaw-dropping dunks like Russell Westbrook.

In today's day and age, we do not see as many players dominating simply with pure skill. Parker is not the most dynamic at anything when he steps on the court, almost always facing someone faster or stronger or quicker than he is, yet he still has his team on top of the league once again.

As good as Parker is, the fact remains that he is underrated. It is an unspeakable outrage that he gets such little credit for the Spurs' long period of sustained excellence since he came into the league. Until this season, Tim Duncan was on a steady decline while Ginobili has continued to decline this year, whereas Parker just continues to improve across the board. Parker has even improved his three-point percentage 15 percent from last season.

Being in a small market, the Spurs are always looked at as "that boring team." None of their three stars are loaded with athleticism or endorsements, which are two of the main things that bring lots of media attention these days.

They are not controversial as they stay out of the news pretty consistently. They never have clubhouse drama like we have seen in L.A., Miami or Dallas. All these things also just speak volumes about the kind of organization being run in San Antonio and the kind of point guard they have leading their franchise.

This deep into his stellar career, there is not much left Parker can do to impress us. He will just always be the quiet superstar that skates along quietly until we turn on the television in June and he has his Spurs right in the thick of the title hunt once again.