Congratulations is in order to Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nando De Colo and the rest of the French National Team. After 13 long years, Tony Parker and Boris Diaw were finally able to slay the Goliath that is the Spanish team and claim their first EuroBasket championship.
This is certainly a small salve to the 2013 NBA Finals loss that the San Antonio Spurs experienced in June. A June which both feels like an eternity ago and at the same time feels like it was only a few months ago (which it was). In fact, Game 7 of the NBA Finals was on June 20, 2013. That is a little more than two months before the tipoff of EuroBasket, which began on September 4, 2013.
That is a pretty quick turnaround for the three Spurs players that played in the NBA Finals and then went on to EuroBasket. Though the quick turnaround does not necessarily produce negative results for the Spurs. Nando De Colo played only spot minutes during the NBA playoffs, so his playing time with the French National Team during EuroBasket should have been extremely good for his conditioning, skill development and helping him stay in rhythm (although I wish he would have played better).
While Boris Diaw (Bobo) had a much “larger” role (pun intended) with the Spurs during the playoffs, EuroBasket hopefully helped with his conditioning, (although it did not really look like it). But Bobo played well, doing Bobo things and that is a good sign. So, the question remaining is, how did EuroBasket affect Tony Parker.
Parker played 32.9 minutes per game last season, which was the most he had played since the 2008-09 season. While Parker is the youngest of San Antonio’s aging Big Three, he is not so young. Parker turned 31 years old in May and during last year’s playoffs showed signs of fatigue. During the 2013 NBA playoffs, Parker jumped to 36.4 minutes per game and by the NBA Finals he was noticeably fatigued.
So, after an 87 game season, Parker rested for two months then began practicing for EuroBasket with the French National Team. Even with those two months off, Parker admitted he was fatigued during EuroBasket. France won the EuroBasket championship on September 22, 2013, and NBA training camp begins on October 1, 2013. Considering that Parker will not have to work himself into shape, he may be able to take it easy during training camp and pre-season. But with all the basketball Parker has played over the last year, will he have the stamina to continue to carry the Spurs?
Parker is the offensive engine for the San Antonio Spurs. He is initiates the offense and leads the team in scoring. He is their main distributor, playmaker and offensive threat. This requires an enormous amount of physical and mental energy and Parker’s fatigue level is a legitimate concern for the San Antonio Spurs. Pop has his reasons for allowing his players to play for their national teams during the off-season, but will the costs for Tony Parker outweigh the benefits?
It is impossible to tell how Parker will hold up this season before it even begins, but he is already admitting that he is “very tired“. Yet, this is a concern that is manageable and certainly was foreseen by the Spurs coaching staff and front office. This may explain why the Spurs signed Marco Belinelli. He may have the ability to relieve Parker of some of the playmaking duties.
The Marco Belinelli signing, while unheralded at the time, may be one of those super-sneaky Spurs moves that bring disproportionate return on investment. Bottom line here is that next season Parker’s minutes must decline. Watch for Pop to give Parker the Tim Duncan treatment and sit him out on back to backs as well as a few more DNPs due to “tendonitis” or “flu-like symptoms”. Parker may not like this and it may cost the Spurs a few wins, but it will be for the good of the team come playoff time.