The Tony Parker injury is just awful. The Spurs just announced that Tony Parker is out for the season with a ruptured left quadriceps tendon. Seeing him carried off the court last night by Dejounte Murray and Dewayne Dedmon was awful for Spurs fans and basketball fans. How will this effect the Spurs? You can never gauge the impact of an injury to a team’s leader emotionally, but if any team in the league would be able to use this injury to motivate and continue on, it’d have to be a Gregg Popovich team. The Spurs are always about consistency and their system. I think they’ll be able to navigate it, but the bigger question is can they replace what he brings to the table?
Let’s be honest for a minute: Tony Parker has been inconsistent this year and looked his age. Frankly, I had dismissed the Spurs as a legitimate contender because they didn’t address their point guard position. How are you going to beat Golden State if you have no one who can defend Stephen Curry? Parker certainly can’t do it and while Patty Mills is younger and more energetic, he’s not a particularly great defender. There’s Dejounte Murray, but he’s a rookie. Would Popovich really trust a rookie in the Western Conference Finals? The irony of that question is great. In Tony Parker’s rookie season, he averaged 34 minutes per game, 15.5 points and 4 assists at the ripe old age of 19. However, Parker did start 72 out of the 77 games he played his rookie season so Popovich knew what he had in him. Would he put that kind of faith in Dejounte Murray?
I’m really high on Dejounte Murray. During his lone season at Washington, he averaged 16.1 points, 6 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. He’s been in and out of the lineup this year, but did play 15 games for the Austin Spurs in the D-League and averaged 17.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2 steals. There have been flashes that he’s going to be good. Logic and reasoning suggest that he might go with the veteran, Patty Mills, but I think Patty Mills has value off the bench as an energizer and helping that second unit. Also, Murray started 8 games this season with Parker injured averaging 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, a nice 50.8% field goal percentage, and 41.7% from three. The Spurs went 7-1 with Murray as a starter. I’m sure Popovich knows that and will at least consider it.
If there’s a fatal flaw in the Spurs system, it would have to be loyalty to their long-time guys. As I said, Parker hasn’t been the guy we saw dissect Miami in consecutive Finals for a couple of years and he was never a great defender. Ideally, Parker would move to a bench role while someone else took on the starting responsibilities, but Popovich hasn’t done that with him just like he didn’t do that with Duncan until he was being overwhelmed by OKC’s youth and athleticism in the Playoffs. Maybe this is the catalyst for Parker to move into a different role that would benefit the Spurs. Maybe Murray is the future. I tweeted this back in February and I still believe it today:
The Spurs are going to be insane if/when Dejounte Murray develops into a consistent PG. He & Kawhi will be fun to watch for a long time
— B2 Hoops (@b2hoops) February 12, 2017
Murray provides length, athleticism, and defense. He will at least make Curry work – if the Spurs are able to make it that far. Maybe this injury is a turning point in a good way. Maybe it’s the beginning of a new chapter in Spurs basketball. It hurts watching Tony Parker get carried off the court and hopefully it’s not as serious as it looks, but this could be the beginning of the next Spurs dynasty. I have a feeling we’re going to find out if Dejounte Murray is up to the task soon. I think that he is.
Brandon Pence is the co-founder of B2 Hoops and the founder/editor emeritus of “The Bulls Charge.” Follow him on Twitter here.