San Antonio Spurs: No Tony Parker? No Problem


Tony Parker looks for an inbounds pass against the Atlanta Hawks. (Photo: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule).

The San Antonio Spurs have officially gone one week without Tony Parker and nothing has dramatically changed.

They’re still winning. They’re still atop the Western Conference. More importantly, they’re winning without sacrificing much, as Tim Duncan hasn’t been burdened with more minutes, nor has Manu Ginobili. They’re still getting their numbers, as both are averaging 17-plus points per game since Parker sprained his left ankle.

What are the Spurs doing that’s more than compensated for Parker?

It’s simple: a team philosophy. Their wins have been more of a collective effort than a one-man show. That’s only to be expected, though, because, without Parker, they lack a primary scoring option.

Otherwise, there hasn’t been a huge difference.

Turnovers Haven’t Been A Problem

One thing that pundits wanted to keep an eye on when Parker went down was how the Spurs’ offense would configure. Not only is he their primary scoring option, but he’s also their primary ball-handler, which are two extremely hard things to replace.

The problems could’ve, and still could, pile up. So far, though, they’ve avoided spacing issues, found someone (Ginobili) who can handle the ball and in turn, they aren’t wasting possessions.

San Antonio’s assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.19 since Parker went down, compared to their mark of 1.73 up until Mar. 3. Yes, we’re talking about two significantly different sample sizes, but the point doesn’t change.

The Manu Ginobili Effect

Ginobili has played a big role in the Spurs’ collective effort to maintain pace without Parker. His usage percentage is up (from 24.5 percent, which is his season total, to 30.5 percent over his last three games ), as are his assist numbers.

Ginobili struggled against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, March 8, tallying 16 points and three assists to go with four turnovers. But for the most part, he’s thrived without Parker, which, if you take a closer look, was to be expected.

Per, Ginobili scores about six points more when Parker is on the bench (per 36 minutes). His overall field-goal percentages decreased without Parker facilitating the ball, but he becomes the focal point on offense when his running mate isn’t on the floor. That’s pretty much the trend he’s followed over the past week.

More Interior Play

I wouldn’t call Parker a premier mid-range shooter, but he can’t be left open either. Specifically, he’s a 47.8 mid-range shooter, but he progressively becomes less effective when he takes a few steps back to the 3-point line.

Still, the Spurs lost a shooter when he sprained his ankle, which has called for more interior play.

Take a look at their shot chart up until March 3 (before Parker went down):

Now, take a look at their shot chart without Parker:

We notice that the Spurs are clearly pounding the paint more without Parker. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they miss his mid-range shooting, but the bulk of his points come off drives to the basket.

The correlation seems to be that there is less drive-and-kick action. Parker was admirable at setting up his 3-point shooters (and mid-range shooters), and that facet has lacked since he injured his ankle.

Regardless, this will definitely be a pattern to follow as the Spurs log more games without their point guard. But so far, it’s working.