- Created on Saturday, 02 March 2013 10:41
- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:51
- Written by Jeff Noital
Tony Parker went down with an ankle sprain on Friday against the Sacramento Kings and the San Antonio Spurs still managed to blowout the things in a 130-102 decision. After the game, Mike Monroe tweeted a small update from head coach Gregg Popovich.
"Pop on parker ankle sprain: 'it's a good one, he'll be out a while' (Monroe_SA)"
When the injury happened, it's a safe bet every Spurs fan saw their season flashed before their eyes. The Spurs have been playing great throughout the season with the exception of the handful of losses they've had, but they've been playing with a chemistry and urgency for a fifth ring that could now go to waste. The last thing the fan base wants to stomach is a freak injury killing their title hopes.
The question of "what is Pop going to do now?" is going to linger. Whether Parker is out a week or (just for discussion sake) out for the season, there's going to be a very important stretch without Parker that are going to force the Spurs to pull it together for the first seed and possibly the overall seed in the league. San Antonio has had an abundance of point guards behind Parker, but that doesn't look like much depth without the MVP candidate French man in front of the pack. Pop has a few options he can use, but there's only one that will make sense.
During this stretch without Parker, Pop needs to start Nando De Colo. He's in his first year in the NBA, but he's been playing professional basketball for years. He's also known the Spurs system as Parker has mentioned he's integrated it into the French national team throughout the years. He's the most logical choice for that position than the others around him. Gary Neal, who's been injured as of late, shouldn't be an option for the starting role. The San Antonio Spurs have thrived with speed and ball movement in the starting unit and Neal brings neither of those. His lack of passing ability and preference to throw up a shot whenever he has an inch of daylight is exactly what the starting unit doesn't need. The team has too many one dimensional players (including Tim Duncan at this point of his career) to go with a slow paced game.
Patty Mills could also be a viable option and always plays with energy. That's a characteristic that makes him valuable off the bench over a starting unit. There's also Cory Joseph, who's played well with the Austin Toros. He's averaged 19.4ppg and 5.5apg this season, but his production seems to dramatically drop in the big leagues once he's called up. The best argument for De Colo to start is also that he's a mix of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in his game, but also he'll be more protected in the starting lineup than the bench. With constant ball movement in the starting unit, he can thrive and get some minutes for the playoff stretch against other good starting players. De Colo has averaged 9.3ppg and 4.3apg in 31.3mpg, which isn't too bad for a rookie NBA season with a championship contender.
De Colo doesn't have to be Tony Parker 2.0, he just has to take care of the ship while the captain is down. With Parker's influence and mentoring, he can become contributor to this team this year and possibly give Parker more rest time than he needs. The Spurs' championship hopes rest on Parker, there's no doubt about that. The more the team can do without Tony Parker, the more they can allow him to heal and re-charge his batteries for the playoffs. The team has 14 games this month and only 2 of those games will be away from the AT&T Center in San Antonio. While many fans would prefer this season to be injury free, this may be the best situation with this predicament. It may also be the best situation for Nando De Colo to develop as the season goes on too.