During Game 2 of the San Antonio Spurs Western Conference Semifinals series with the Houston Rockets, 16 year veteran and 6 time All-Star, Tony Parker, was forced to depart midway through the fourth quarter due to an apparent leg injury. The Spurs immediately feared the worst for their starting point guard because of the pain he displayed on the floor. Today, the Spurs’ fear came to fruition as they announced that Parker had ruptured his left quadricep tendon and would be sidelined for the rest of the postseason. Many years ago, during Parker’s prime, the departure of Parker would have signaled the end of the Spurs’ season because monumental impact he had on the team.
However, due to his age, Parker’s skills and athleticism have noticeably declined to the point where Parker has been relegated to merely a roll player. This season, Parker experienced his worst season of his career since his rookie year. In 25 minutes of action, Parker averaged only 10.1 points and 4.5 assists per game. At this point in his career, Parker’s best asset is his leadership and ability to lead an offense. However, due to the Spurs’ experience and Coach Gregg Popovich’s system, the team will not be as devastating. In addition, Parker’s lack of speed has made him a liability on defense. This was going to be a major problem in the future for the Spurs because he was not going to be able to defend the All-Star guards from the Rockets and eventually the Warriors, Beverley, Harden, Curry, and Thompson. Instead of Parker, the Spurs will be reliant on backup point guard Patty Mills to take on a bigger role in the offense. In only 21 minutes of action, Mills averaged 9.5 points and 3.5 assists per game. In an expanded role, Mills should be able to produce over 10 points per game and average nearly 5 assists per game. Along with Mills, the Spurs can rely on Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard to handle the ball, both of whom are better options than Parker. Ginobili possesses the same leadership ability and savviness as Parker, while Leonard has elevated himself to elite status.
Ultimately though, the Spurs’ future success will not severely be hindered by Parker’s injury, but upon the play of Power Forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is an All-Star type player that needs to play like a star if the Spurs are going to even beat the dynamic Houston Rockets. After a pathetic first game where he scored only 4 points, in their blowout loss, he slightly improved in game two as he scored 14 points and accumulated 8 rebounds. Throughout his career, Aldridge has averaged nearly 20 points per game. Aldridge should be able to score efficiently against the Rockets because they do not possess a player that can frequently defend him. The Rockets’ use of a small lineup results in Aldridge being defended by Ryan Anderson, a below average defender. Even though the Spurs have one of the best defenses in the league, they will need to score in high volumes to compete with the Rockets, who possess the second best offense in the league. Even though the Spurs possess an offensive system that allows multiple people to score and elevate each of their player’s games, they need a second star that they can pair with Leonard so that during crunch they will have multiple options. Tony Parker was attempting to be the second scorer as he averaged 17 points during the first few games in the playoffs, but he does not have the endurance to continue the trend and that is why the injury will not be a major blow to the Spurs’ championship hopes.