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Tony Parker: Where is the Love?

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Tony Parker: Where is the Love?
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Is it just me, or do the Spurs just fly under the radar every season?

I'm not only talking about the Spurs as a team, either. Their players always go unnoticed and unappreciated for the most part as well.

How many times have you had a conversation with someone about the top 10 players in the league and simply forgot to include Tim Duncan?

I know I have, and the problem is that we tend to forget about them—I'm pretty sure most any real fan will agree Duncan is still a Top10 player.

So it really is just a Curse of the Spurs: They've been so great and solid for such a long period of time now(over a decade) they we tend to simply undervalue them as a whole, and their players go unappreciated for the most part.

My subject for today is Tony Parker—a prime example of what I am talking about.

I'm trying to not base my entire discussions on stats these days, but I still have to at least use the core stats of players to satisfy my urges of being a stat-whore (a slut of stats, basically).

Devin Harris might be the most talked-about "young" player in the league.  He has had a breakout season and is possibly going to win the Most Improved Player award.

I'm not trying to discredit him to any degree, because he is a really solid, All-Star-caliber point guard, but when you take a look at what that kid (or should I say "man") has done this season, I can't help but wonder why Tony Parker isn't talked about just as much.

I understand Harris deserves all his accolades as his increases are a bit larger from last season—though his actual production is identical to his production last season.  He's just getting seven more minutes a game, which is 25 percent more playing time.  Take a look for yourself—his per-minute production hasn't improved at all.

But I won't get into that. I am not arguing the Most Improved Player award here.  (I'll save that for another article.)

The interesting thing with Parker is he is playing basically the same amount of minutes as the previous season, yet every single stat of his has jumped up a decent amount.  Since Harris has become this "great future PG" I want to compare Tony Parker to him this season.

Per Game:

  • Harris:---22.6ppg---7.0apg---3.3rpg---1.7spg---44%FG
  • Parker:---21.9ppg---7.0apg---3.0rpg---1.0spg---50%FG


Per36:

  • Harris:---22.2ppg--6.9apg---3.2rpg---1.7spg
  • Parker:---23.1ppg---7.3apg---3.1rpg---1.0spg


PER:

  • Harris: 23.0
  • Parker: 22.9


So where's the love for my boy Tony Parker? His stats have increased in every single category for career-best averages in points, assists, steals, three-point percentage and field-goal percentage. This guy is averaging over 20 points a game and seven assists a game as the leader and point guard of the greatest franchise in basketball for the last decade. 

Parker's numbers are nearly identical to Devin Harris' around the board. Then realize Parker plays fewer minutes than Harris, and then take a look at their field-goal percentages. Parker trumps Harris, and any PG for that matter, being able to make HALF of his shots for the entire season.

Why don't people talk about Tony as the new "PG of the future"? How does a quick little midget like Tony accomplish such a feat? Aside from Steve Nash, I don't think any of the other great guards we talk about these days come close to making half of their shots. Moving on....

Now, Let's not forget his wife is 20 times hotter than anyone else's—he gets a few more points for that in my book. More importantly, he's the point guard and new leader of the San Antonio Spurs who happen to be the second best team in the Western Conference. And of course, we can't forget he was the 2007 NBA Finals MVP.

Tony Parker has single-handedly carried the Spurs through their bouts with injury all year.  He began the season with Ginobli out the first few games putting up insane numbers including a 55-point, 10-assist, and seven-rebound effort against the Timberwolves.

Recently, he's picked up his play even more with Ginobli having been out for the last month or so, putting up great numbers and keeping this team atop the standings. While Tim Duncan has obviously played a vital role in all this, even he's admitted that Tony Parker drives this team and is without a doubt their MVP this year.

While Parker is not going to be in the discussion for league MVP (at least not while Duncan is on his team) I do think TD is spot on about Parker being the engine and heart that drives this team on a nightly basis. So where's the love for Tony?

People also seem to forget Tony Parker is only 26 years old. That's not a typo; he's twenty-six years old. That's the main reason I wanted to compare him to Devin Harris.

People seem to think Parker's around 30 years of age because of Duncan and Ginobli's ages, as well as his long tenure in the league. I often forget Parker came to the Spurs from France at the age of 18, and I know many other fans do the same thing.

Everyone talks about Devin Harris as this new "PG of the future", yet Parker is never mentioned in those same talks. Every day they discuss how Chris Paul and Deron Williams are the future guards of this league (which is obviously true). 

But this season, the other relatively young guards having break-out seasons are surfacing in these talks all too often—the "future stud PGs of the NBA," like Devin Harris (25), Mo Williams (26), Jose Calderon (27), and Jameer Nelson (27).

So why the hell is Tony Parker not in these talks, at the age of 26 with his prime years ahead of him?

It's the curse of being a San Antonio Spur. Tony Parker might have been the least talked about player of the All-Star weekend—and yes, that includes Nate Robinson and all the dunkers, as well as the guys in the Rookie-Sophomore Game.

This Spurs franchise, and its players, have somehow been able to continuously fly under the radar—despite winning four NBA titles in the past decade. Tim Duncan is possibly the best power forward to play the game (at least top five), yet people spend all their time discussing the other great players in the league.

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that Tony Parker continues to fly under the radar as he improves and becomes a clear-cut stud. I guess when you've been in the league since 18 and already had six great seasons starting on the best franchise in the league, and winning three titles in that span, fans and everyone else seem to simply take you for granted.

I'm sure Tony doesn't mind either. He'll gladly let all the hype and fuss surround Devin Harris and the other young guards of the league right now. Once the playoffs roll around, Tony Parker shows why he really is not only one of the best PGs in the league, but one of the best players in the league—just like he always does.

So whenever I start taking Tony Parker for granted I just do a quick YouTube search and always come to a great video. After scanning a few videos, I think this is a perfect example that will really do justice to my discussion, and in itself says so much more than I can every write in word.

Remember, he's only 25 in this game last season, and not once do they say anything about his age—not once.

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