San Antonio Spurs: Why Tony Parker Is the NBA's Most Underrated Player

John FrascellaCorrespondent IFebruary 29, 2012

Don't be depressed Tony...we notice.
Don't be depressed Tony...we notice.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

When MVP candidates are discussed, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant will always get their due.

When the NBA's premier point guards are debated, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo are always in the mix.

When the San Antonio Spurs' championship teams come up, we hear about Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and Manu Ginobili first.

The question is, when does veteran point guard Tony Parker get the credit he deserves?

Parker, who is currently averaging more than 19 points and eight assists per game, has been the one and only superstar for this year's Spurs. Despite injuries to Ginobili and Duncan's necessary pace-for-the-playoffs style of play, Parker has his Spurs ranked second in the deep and difficult Western Conference.

And how, you might ask?

With the same calm, collected and consistent brand of basketball he's showcased throughout his 11-year NBA career.

Parker controls pace and tempo, has an extremely high basketball IQ (thanks in some part to coach Pop), gets to the rim with shiftiness and savvy, and knocks down mid-range jumpers when the going gets tough.

He's everything you could possibly want in a point guard, and yet we never hear him mentioned among the NBA's superstars.

I think it's a shame, but Parker probably doesn't mind considering his trio of championship rings.

Speaking of those championships, Parker averages nearly 19 points per game in the postseason, hitting more than 46 percent of his field goals while turning the ball over less than three times per contest.

The stats are certainly nice, but those of us who simply watch playoff basketball know that Parker is one of the top clutch performers in the game. He's provided pressure buckets—layups, floaters, mid-range jumpers and occasional threes—time and time again.

Parker knows when to lean on Ginobili and/or Duncan, and he knows when he has to shoulder the load.

All things considered, Parker is an outstanding professional basketball player.

And if no one's going to give him the credit he deserves, well...

Then I guess I will.