A star at point guard is supposed to be a requirement for success in today’s NBA.
Five of the top-6 teams based on record have a current All-Star running their offense.
The exception is the San Antonio Spurs, whose stars are in the frontcourt, headlined by Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Point guard for the Spurs isn’t flashy, manned by a 16-year veteran (Tony Parker) who was last an All-Star in 2014 and a player who figures to be in the running for Sixth Man of the Year (Patty Mills).
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The combination has worked fine for the Spurs, who entered Saturday at 55-16, the second best record in the NBA. And if the Spurs are to make a run at a championship, it might not be because Parker or Mills are carrying the Spurs, but it’s almost certain they’ll be playing a big part.
Parker, 34, has been dogged by injuries all season and is averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 assists, both on pace to be the second-lowest of his career, only behind his rookie season.
So it’s helped to have Mills, 28, who is averaging 9.9 points and a career-high 3.5 assists. He can infuse the Spurs with a jolt of energy as soon as he steps on the court.
“Patty is going to be more frenetic,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “He’s going to get the pace up. The ball is going to move a little bit more. And when Tony is out there things are going to be a little more controlled.”
Contrast that with Parker, who at this stage of his career is not going to be the player to try the unpredictable. He’s seen everything at this point and knows how to settle the Spurs down when needed.
“So they’re both good for us in that regard,” Popovich said. “We need pace at times. Sometimes we need control. But Tony’s been doing this a long time.”
It’ll take both for San Antonio to upset Golden State in a possible Western Conference Finals matchup.
Teams still look to attack Warriors star Stephen Curry to gain an advantage. Curry’s defense is much better than it was early in his career. Still, no one is confusing him with Gary Payton when he’s in his defensive stance.
A key for San Antonio will be making the Warriors have to worry about more than Leonard and Aldridge as threats and Parker and Mills will be important to that.
A lot has to happen before a Warriors-Spurs playoff series can happen. But if it all works, the Spurs could prove it doesn’t require a superstar at point guard to win in today’s NBA.
The ‘This Can’t Be Life’ Award – LaVar Ball is playing the media game to perfection. Yes, he’s grabbing attention and building a brand and the media is why he can pull it off.
Ball is, if anything, an overzealous father who likes to say things no one could or would believe.
He’s like many of us in the barber shop except no one is broadcasting the lunacy many of us spew with our folks.
The media can’t criticize LaVar for saying he could have beat Michael Jordan one-on-one when it runs to put a microphone in his face right after that, hoping for the next sound byte that will make for great clickbait.
So congrats, LaVar. Yes, Lonzo and UCLA lost in the Sweet 16, but father and son finished the season as household names.
I can’t wait to see what LaVar says at the NBA Draft.
The ‘Keeping it Way Too Real’ Award – Hall of Famer and Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal had his statue unveiled Friday at Staples Center, which of course, meant many chances for quotes from one the most entertaining players in league history.
O’Neal said he and Kobe Bryant both should have more than one MVP award, noting Steve Nash winning twice cost him more MVPs.
O’Neal told Sports Illustrated he also hasn’t forgotten that he almost was the first unanimous league MVP in 2000, falling a vote short. Curry became the league’s first unanimous MVP last year.
And he hasn’t forgotten the voter who cost him that distinction.
“The one where that crazy dummy Fred Hickman (messed) up my historical (unanimous MVP) so now Curry gets the first unanimous,” O’Neal said. “That bothers me a lot.”