the outlet pass

The Curious Case of Tony Parker

For those who thought Parker was going to the Hornets a washed old man, he's proven to be the NBA's Benjamin Button, looking younger and more self-reliant than he has in years.

by Michael Pina
Feb 1 2019, 3:18pm

Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

The below has been excerpted from this week's Outlet Pass, to get caught up on everything else you need to know in the NBA this week read the rest of the column here.

Tony Parker isn’t the efficient swashbuckler he used to be, but as an established, entirely independent presence off Charlotte’s bench, he’s swerving his way through a surprisingly satisfying season that’s more impressive (and unusual) than it looks.

Now 36 years old, an age when players typically depend on teammates to do most of the heavy lifting, Parker’s literally more self-reliant than ever before. His usage is the highest it’s been in five years, his assist rate is highest it’s been in six years, and, most notably, a higher percentage of Parker’s baskets are unassisted than ever before. In fact, the only players who’re asked to create more for themselves are Chris Paul and James Harden. Wild.

Only seven percent of Parker’s shots at the rim have been assisted this season. Eleven years ago that number was 20 percent, which is the second-lowest it’s ever been in his career. Parker no longer sizzles down the floor for transition layups, but the guy is still able to turn defenders into traffic cones and get where he wants to go.

And when he can’t get all the way to the basket, Parker’s floater is still a machete.

Chew on this stat: Willie Hernangomez has passed the ball to Parker 336 times this season—more than any other Hornet—and only three were an assist. To those who thought Parker was washed, the man is doing so much more than treading water in a situation that banks on his minutes.

This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.