PLAYERS: G Manu Gin�bili, F Robert Horry, G Brent Barry, C Francisco Elson, G-F
Ime Udoka* *New acquisition
(3rd in West) Points scored: 98.5 (14th in NBA) Points allowed: 90.1 (1st)
Coach: Gregg Popovich (12th season with Spurs)
The tony parker
World Tour 2007 has finally downshifted from fifth gear to fourth, but, oh,
what a ride it has been. The first stop was Cleveland, where the point guard
led the Spurs to their fourth NBA title in nine years and was named Finals MVP.
Then there was a wedding in France you may have read about and an exchange of
vows with a Hollywood star you may have heard of. That was followed by a
honeymoon in Turks and Caicos, a trip to Spain to play for the French national
team in the European Championships and a stopover in Paris to be inducted into
the French Legion of Honor. "I didn't really have time," Parker says,
"to enjoy my championship."
He did, however,
have time to get a tattoo of a wedding ring on his left ring finger. Now
Parker's focus has shifted to delivering another ring (the real deal, not the
ink variety) to San Antonio--because the Spurs have not yet won back-to-back
titles during their long run of success.
While San Antonio
will be Tim Duncan's team for as long as he wears the silver-and-black, the
defending champ's bid for a repeat depends on the continued development of
Parker. On a team whose other core players are all in or past their primes,
Parker, 25, still has significant upside.
He made strides
last season, adding a midrange shot to prevent defenders from always going
underneath on pick-and-rolls. And in the sweep of the Cavaliers, Parker played
what coach Gregg Popovich considers his best ball ever, slicing to the rim for
easy buckets and averaging 24.5 points on 56.8% shooting.
The knock on
Parker's game has been his long-range jumper, but Popovich plans to let Parker
shoot the deep ball more this season. "I think it's time to let him go
ahead and prove [that he can make it]," says Popovich. "If he gets that
down, he's going to be pretty tough to handle."--G.M.
team's scout sizes up the Spurs