There aren’t many players that combine a deadly proficiency from the perimeter and at the rim with unparalleled creativity and a passel of basketball skills that irritates defenses consistently.
One of those players is Manu Ginobili, who will enter free agency next offseason at 36 years old. His age will hinder his market value more than anything, otherwise he would be in line for max extension type money.
Tom Ziller of SB Nation believes Ginobili is still an attractive free agent piece but not enough to vault into the top five — where Josh Smith, Andrew Bynum, James Harden, Andrew Bynum and Chris Paul are just as effective, but don’t have nearly the wear and tear of Ginobili, whose logged more than 22,000 minutes in his career. Ginobili finished sixth on Ziller’s early look at next years class.
“Manu is this low only because of age: he’s 35, with 22,000 NBA minutes on the odometer in addition to thousands of Euroleague and FIBA minutes, as well. He’s also had some injury issues (he played just 34 games last season) and plays a reckless style. That said, he’s still so brilliant on the court. Neither his per-minute production nor efficiency have slipped (rare at this age), and the Spurs still depend heavily on him. Tim Duncan is signed up for three more years, so it’s quite possible that San Antonio will extend Manu through 2014-15 before July arrives. If not, should Manu hit free agency, the contenders will be killing themselves to grab him.”
I don’t know what’s more remarkable: Ginobili’s increasing efficiency — in his 10th season, he posted career-highs in true shooting percentage and assist percentage while nearly eclipsing his 2007-08 season in PER — or how the media will continue to overlook Ginobili and credit James Harden for reinvigorating the shooting guard position. (An aside: Harden’s beard is roughly the equivalent of Ginobili’s bald spot but it’s also more popular and marketable. Of course.)
Both are pretty remarkable, but knowing Ginobili, the latter is probably more so. The media will continue to cultivate a dichotomy where the majority of fans abhor his “flopping” and don’t care to appreciate his brilliance. But he will still be brilliant.
Because that’s just how Ginobili operates.