The San Antonio Spurs need Manu Ginobili now more than ever.
It’s really hard to cite statistics on this one like I normally do because, in all fairness, Manu didn’t have a great year last year. With the exception of having one of the highest assist percentages on the team and one of the lowest turnover percentages, his shooting and efficiency numbers were sub-par.
He was 7th in PER, 9th in win shares, 10th in PER, 10th in VORP, 11th in offensive rating, 12th in box plus-minus, and 13th in defensive rating.
It’s hard to blame him for those numbers, though. Last year’s Spurs team never had a chance to function the way it was designed because Kawhi Leonard only played in nine games. And because of a rash of other injuries, the Silver and Black trotted out 24 different starting lineups last season.
You can’t really have a good statistical year when you’ve got the stability of a newborn giraffe taking its first steps during an earthquake.
But give the Spurs credit. Despite all of those challenges, they still made the playoffs. And despite critics telling them that they should take what they could, when they could for Kawhi Leonard, they held out and got All-Star DeMar DeRozan and young big man Jakob Poeltl out of the deal.
The Spurs are already guaranteed to be much healthier to start the season as well. Last year, the Spurs played months without two of their projected starting five healthy because Tony Parker was injured too.
Coming into this season, they’ll be younger, stronger, and healthier. Forget all the pundits saying that the Spurs will miss the playoffs or that they’ll win fewer games than they did last season. Aren’t you excited to see a healthy Rudy Gay play alongside a mad and motivated DeMar DeRozan?
But there are a couple of big question marks still lingering going into this year. What will the rotation look like?
You can project Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan, and LaMarcus Aldridge into the starting lineup pretty easily. But what about the rest? Some think that Patty Mills could start at shooting guard to move DeRozan over to Kawhi’s old spot at small forward. Then Gregg Popovich could start either Pau Gasol or Rudy Gay depending on whether he wants Aldridge to play power forward or center because Rudy Gay could play a stretch position.
Derrick White, Davis Bertans, Jakob Poeltl, Marco Belinelli, and Manu Ginobili could all come off the bench from there, with Pop favoring White and Poeltl as they look to take up more time on the court as they improve.
That’s a pretty young group coming off the bench and there are some young guys in the starting lineup too. While there are veterans on the team, none have been with the Spurs as long and continuously as Manu. He stands to be a strong, veteran presence helping Popovich guide the newest generation of a Spurs dynasty that refuses to die.
He could be the guy that helps Murray, DeRozan, White, and maybe even Poeltl take the next big step in their careers.
We don’t know for sure whether Manu’s coming back, but for all those reasons, uno mas, Manu. Por favor, uno mas.