The San Antonio Spurs are off to a 24-5 start to the 2015-16 NBA season because why the hell not. With apparent ageless wonders like Tony Parker and Tim Duncan roaming about, while adding soon-to-be ageless wonder LaMarcus Aldridge to the fold, I guess it is honestly no surprise they have been this good — again.
While most will hurl praise in the general direction of Kawhi Leonard, and rightfully so, some of the guys who are playing their way out of being put in retirement homes deserve some credit as well.
Often overlooked, Tony Parker, being one of them. Parker’s entire career is that of a guy who has never been as appreciated as he should be. Early in his career, rumors always swirled about that the Spurs should trade Parker for a move proven commodity like a Jason Kidd. Considering they’ve won NBA rings with him, and Jason Kidd is having a hip surgery that is eerily reminiscent to one my grandmother is about to undergo, it is safe to say that Gregg Popovich made the right decision trusting the international star.
Parker is having a seriously great sneaky awesome season. He is shooting a career-best 56 percent from the floor. He’s also shooting over 50 percent from three this season, though, it is worth noting he takes less than one of those a game. Not to mention his effective field goal shooting is sitting at a swell 58 percent. Even better, as Popovich continues to manage his aging stars’ minutes, Parker is still scoring over 13 points per outing despite playing the fewest minutes per game of his career (26).
Basically, Tony Parker is playing some of the best basketball of his life in 2015. Maybe he’s not as dynamic as he once was, but he’s been a huge reason the Spurs continue their yearly tradition of being cooler than a cucumber on the opposite side of the pillow.
Like Parker, Tim Duncan is playing the fewest minutes of his career. He’s also taking the fewest shot attempts (just over 7 per game). Despite that, though, Duncan remains a fixture on the San Antonio roster and their reasons for success.
His nine points and eight rebounds per might make some yearn for a different version of Duncan, but he continues to be more than competent on the defensive end of the floor, and it mostly seems like whatever offensive outbursts he has left is being saved for when it might matter most.
The very best part of Parker and Duncan is the fact that they’re mostly role players at this point — which only continues to highlight how crazily awesome both have been and that they’re about the greatest role-player types in the history of basketball. Slight hyperbole there, but Leonard and Aldridge are the duo expected to carry the franchise this season. Yet, Parker is playing with an inane ability to defy age and Duncan is still better than many big men in the league.
Even Manu Ginobili rears his bald head from the bench to great things from time to time. In fact, he’s been better than last season. He’s shooting 46 percent from the floor, above 36 percent from three, and his eFG% is sitting at a mind-boggling 57 percent. Because of an improved efficiency from last season, Ginobili’s per game scoring is nearly the same as last season — 10.3 per — despite playing three fewer minutes a game.
We haven’t even mentioned future diet spokesperson Boris Diaw still being able to give 19 mostly quality minutes per game to the Spurs or that David West is doing well enough in a much smaller role to give San Antonio more depth than an independent movie winning awards at a Sundance Film Festival.
Really, we do this same dance every year. The difference in years prior when compared to this one is that San Antonio added a legit stud in Aldridge and Leonard continues to become one of the better players in the entire league.
This is the part of the column where I am supposed to ask if the aging Spurs can keep it up. I’m not falling for this trap anymore. Until all of them are dead, set on fire, and the Earth explodes after we are bombed by invading aliens, I’m under the belief that they will be reanimated from the dead by Gregg Popovich in 3044 to grab a four-seed or out of the Western Conference.
More or less, the San Antonio Spurs are never going to die. EVER.