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The evolution of Tony Parker

Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich

San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker, right, of France, talks to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, in San Antonio. Oklahoma City won 111-102. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)


The Tony Parker that kept opposing coaches up at night because of his scoring is still out there. He can still hit the accelerator coming around a high pick, be in the lane in a flash and even though your help defender recognized it in time he is helpless as Parker puts up a pretty teardrop floater in right over the top. It is one of the prettiest shots in the game.

However, we see less of that Parker now. The scoring machine Parker is evolving into more of a pass-first Parker. A balance is being struck as Parker’s game matures.

Through seven games, Parker is assisting on 30 percent of his team’s baskets when he is on the court. That’s up from 24.5 percent last season, 23.5 percent the season before that. Or if you prefer the old-school numbers, Parker is averaging 8.4 assists per game this season, up from 5.7 last season.

Gregg Popovich noticed it, as he told the Express-News:

“Tony has done the best job that he’s ever done here, as far as playing that role between scorer and passer,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He has shown great leadership running the show, distributing the basketball and scoring when it’s appropriate for him.”

“He came as a scoring guard, and we’ve tried to move him the other direction a bit,” Popovich said of the three-time All-Star. “Not too much, because we don’t want to lose his scoring.”

Parker is adjusting to leading as a point guard — the Spurs now have more young guns in the rotation now than ever. But that leadership is another part of Parker’s evolution.

“As a point guard it’s tough because I’m calling plays and they are getting lost and stuff like that, so of course we have to be patient,” Parker said after the Spurs beat the Clippers recently.

Right now the Spurs are 6-1 with the fourth rated offense in the league. The team is evolving, and following Parkers lead in that direction.