Spotlighting and Breaking Down San Antonio Spurs' Point Guard Position

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Spotlighting and Breaking Down San Antonio Spurs' Point Guard Position
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When you have a top-two point guard in the league, extreme depth is almost unfair. Fortunately for the San Antonio Spurs, there are no specific rules strictly prohibiting it.

Tony Parker has always been thought of as a top guard, but only recently has he hopped into the top tier of the league's best floor generals. Last year, the debate became exclusive to him and Chris Paul; either has enough evidence to make a legitimate claim that he was the position's top dog.

But behind Parker, San Antonio is lucky to associate themselves with numerous talented players capable of commanding the top backup role.

Though the true order is unclear, what is plainly evident is that the Spurs' point guard position is among the deepest in the league.

Projected Stats for Spurs' Point Guards
Player Minutes Points Assists Rebounds
Tony Parker 31.2 20.1 8.4 3.0
Cory Joseph 17.4 7.9 3.1 3.3
Patty Mills 9.2 5.5 0.9 0.9
Nando de Colo 6.1 1.7 2.2 0.8

List reflects predicted depth order.

 

Tony Parker

Had I used this space as an attempt to convert Parker's naysayers into believers, I'd likely have been preaching to an empty choir.

After his incredible 2012-13 campaign coupled with postseason excellence, Parker's status as one of the league's most elite talents was accepted by the final group of skeptics.

Entering last season, it was widely recognized that Parker was the team's new leader. Even after Tim Duncan's resurgent performance throughout the year's entirety, few can deny that the team's success was primarily due to the feats of their superstar catalyst. 

Not only did Parker eclipse the 20-point-per-game plateau for the second time in his career, but he did so with incredible efficiency. Connecting on 52 percent of his attempts, the Spurs' point guard was the only one at his position to make the majority of his shots.

So what can be expected of the veteran point guard in 2013-14? The answer happens to be quite scary.

Despite his lengthy career in the league, Parker is only 31, and is still on the rise.

As mentioned earlier, it was only recently that Parker became an elite player. He'll continue to develop as he shifts into the leadership role that Duncan is unknowingly still grasping onto.

Duncan will eventually fail to produce with the skill and efficiency of a 20-year-old All Star. After seeing a slight drop-off in the Finals, it wouldn't be unfair to assume that age is slowly catching up on the team's power forward. Thus, it is very likely that Duncan's 2013-14 campaign isn't resemblant of his primal self. He'll have to settle for All-NBA Third Team this season—imagine that.

With his role decreasing, Parker will become even more important. With the West as competitive as ever, the Spurs will need maximum contributions from their orchestrator, and after seeing how he was able to dominate in years past, it would be shocking if he doesn't live up to the challenge.

 

Cory Joseph

I highlighted Cory Joseph in detail earlier this month, but for those who missed it, here's a quick summary.

After being placed in the D-League for the majority of his freshman and sophomore years, Joseph rose from obscurity and became one of the team's most important reserves.

His work ethic is unquestioned, and after seeing his incredible effort this summer at the FIBA Americas Championship tournament—he most recently scored 28 points alongside nine rebounds and four assists—Joseph is on pace to be the team's top point guard reserve.

What he brings to the team is invaluable, especially from a backup. When Parker sits—which is inevitable from time to time—Joseph is able to contribute in a way that prevents Parker's absence from being missed.

Though he isn't the same All-Star player, he can score in a variety of ways—you cannot leave him open anywhere—while also being an adequate distributor. He runs the floor with confidence and ease, a characteristic that is crucial off the bench.

Most importantly, however, is Joseph's defensive aptitude. He defends better than Parker himself and constantly creates offensive opportunities after forcing turnovers. His hustle also leads to several rebounds—both defensive and offensive—which is something fairly unexpected from someone of his size.

He still has to refine his offensive game, but Joseph is a quality backup and Gregg Popovich shouldn't hesitate to employ him. He won't do anything too magnificent, but he's talented enough to fill Parker's void.

 

Patty Mills

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A part of me is hesitant to even call Patty Mills a point guard, as he'll most definitely assume an off-ball role when given court time.

Mills, who joined the roster during the 2011-12 season, has watched his playing time be stolen from a handful of other talents over the past two years.

However, with Marco Belinelli joining the roster, don't be surprised if Mills finds himself with a handful of opportunities. 

Belinelli joins Manu Ginobili as a shooting guard with the distributing abilities of a point guard. Because of this, the Spurs can survive with Mills at point, as long as either of the aforementioned names is accompanying him.

Mills offers a shooting ability that is unmatched at the point guard position within the organization. He can shoot the long ball and the mid-range at a high clip, and does so with comfort.

However, he lacks the passing and handling abilities of a true point guard, so Pop has been hesitant to implement him in the past.

Previously, his height made it difficult to match up with shooting guards. But with Ginobili and Belinelli, he can guard point guards while assuming the role of a 2 on offense.

He'll still remain crammed in a deep pool of talented players, but don't be surprised if the Spurs turn towards the Australian speedster if they need a shooting spark off the bench.

 

Nando de Colo

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Like Mills, French point guard, Nando de Colo has shown flashes of excellence but is too one-dimensional to truly excel.

He possesses the opposite skill set of Mills, being a strong passer while lacking the tenacity to become a dynamic scorer. Without the ball in his hands, he is virtually useless.

Despite holding the lead reserve job early in the 2012-13 season, it would be quite surprising to see him escape the bench very often. In all actuality, De Colo may not even dress on a consistent basis.

He possesses decent height for a point guard, but can only thrive when he is the primary distributor. Belinelli and Ginobili would hinder his development in that aspect, so any backcourt partner aside from Danny Green makes little logical sense.

Of course, this isn't to say that De Colo has no hope.

Especially if he spends significant time in Austin with the D-League squad, gradual development could ensure the French point guard playing time in the future.

However, in a backcourt that is currently overflowing with talent, there is little need for a one-dimensional player whose specialty isn't lacking whatsoever.

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