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Seriously, Though; Parker Wants Your All-Star Vote

By Jeff Koch on February 9, 2012.

And he’s gotten it. Congratulations, Tony! The way he’s carried this Spurs team to the second best record in the West, he deserves to be an All-Star.

Last night’s performance against Philadelphia was his encore performance (the votes were already in before the game started). And a virtuosic one it was. 37 points, 8 assists, and a complete command of the game. He ran the pick and roll to perfection with any big man who was willing to go along for the ride. His chemistry with Splitter is particularly strong, as Splitter continues to show he might be a difference maker come playoff time. The numbers are bearing it out a little bit, but I’ve never seen Parker play this well. He has full command of the offense, knows when to shoot, when to pass, where to pass it, when and where to move without the ball. It really is a thing of beauty.

So naturally, with Ginobili set to return Saturday night, let the hand-wringing begin about the two player’s chemistry and ability to play together. It’s a valid point. For years, the dirty secret of Ginobili coming off the bench has been that Parker needs the space at the start of the game to be in control and become engaged in the game. Ginobili can run the second-unit like nobody’s business, he still gets his minutes, and we always have a top-notch scorer/playmaker on the court.

It will be interesting to see how the rotation changes as Ginobili returns. The team is playing so well right now, with arguably the best bench in basketball. No one would make the case that inserting Ginobili–a beloved teammate, wonderful passer and all-around amazing team player–would screw up chemistry. But certain adjustments will have to be made. The most interesting thing to watch, aside from the starting line-up, is how Ginobili’s minutes get deducted from Green’s, Leonard’s, Neal’s, and Jefferson’s. All 4 add something unique and important, yet all 4 are somewhat expendable due to the other 3. Ultimately, it gives the Spurs a nice luxury to play situational basketball and ride a hot hand when it crops up.

The other interesting note from last night’s game was Green’s introduction into the line-up, replacing Leonard. I understand the move. Leonard has a lot of energy and defensive ability, but can often be an offensive liability with his cold-shooting and lack of system knowledge. The first unit in particular runs heavy on system-knowledge. Green, on the other hand, is a little more system-type player, and despite some recent poor performances, is a more consistent shooter, particularly from depth. (Watch Leonard: often, when he is in the corner, instead of being behind the 3-point line, he is two steps in. This allows the defense to sag in and ruins the team spacing. Jefferson had the same problem 2 seasons ago during our sweep at the hands of the Suns.) And Green is a better ball-handler, giving us a secondary option with Parker. Meanwhile, Leonard is a fantastic fit for our second unit, which runs on energy and frenetic play on both ends.

Assuming Ginobili reclaims his spot in the starting line-up, though, it’s mostly a thought experiment.

One last thing of note: John Hollinger has written a nice piece about the Spurs. (Insider. Or not.) He says a lot of things regular watchers have been noticing for some time: mainly, that our bench is pretty damn good, we’ve developed some good pieces, and we’re a model organization. As much as I enjoy the praise for our team, I prefer it when we’re written off and not thought about. I feel the Spurs are better served as an afterthought, operating under the radar. As he points out in the end, though, no one will really notice anyway, even after his article.

Two days off is quite a luxury this season, even for bloggers. Saturday night’s game should be interesting with Ginobili’s (hoped for) return to the line-up. Looking forward on the Rodeo Road Trip, I dont’ see any reason the team shouldn’t go 7-2 or better over the 9-game stretch.

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