Collectively, the San Antonio Spurs received less production from their shooting guards than in years prior. This was partly due to the absence of Manu Ginobili, who missed 32 games last season. Their 14.7 PER indicates that the group nearly performed at an average rate which is a positive considering Danny Green and Gary Neal are flawed role players at this juncture.
When Ginobili assumed the shooting guard position, he was highly efficient, totaling a 24.5 PER according to 82games.com. Green and Neal are noticeable downgrades but they are both serviceable in their own way.
But, on the same note, is not unreasonable to expect Green to improve this season. It is not unreasonable to believe Neal will benefit from a stable source of backup point guards that will allow him to delve to his more natural position. Should they improve, along with a healthy Ginobili, the Spurs shooting guards should outperform last season’s production.
Green earned 38 starts last season and that should remain the case this season. Placing Ginobili on the bench and bringing him against inferior opponents is a positive preposition. But the benefits are even more immense, structurally; this allows Gregg Popovich to pair Ginobili with Neal and Patty Mills, two players whose respective skill sets fit synonymously with Ginobili’s vision. Plus, Tony Parker needs the ball and Green doesn’t as he generally score from spot-ups and in transition.
It will be interesting to see how Popovich utilizes the 35-year-old shooting guard. Ginobili averaged 23.3 minutes per game, which marks the lowest mark in minutes per game since the 2002-03 season. As long as the Spurs capitalize on inferior opponents and continue to win by large margins, Ginobili will earn extra rest. This is probably a good thing but Ginobili acknowledged the difficulty he has, at this stage of his career, to rebound from extended rest.
Though relying on positional delineations isn’t always reliable, Neal wasn’t as effective at 2-guard last season. He logged 27% of his minutes alongside a point guard and he wasn’t as efficient from the perimeter. He scored more, assisted more and shot better at point guard. Whether this is merely a case of irrelevant statistical numbers, as it is difficult to determine who the point guard is at times, is up for debate. Even so, I expect Neal to be more successful without the burden of carrying the ball up the floor.
I didn’t cover Collins with the other point guards because he wasn’t technically on the Spurs training camp roster. At 5-foot-11 Collins is a point guard. (For the sake of this piece, let’s pretend he is a shooting guard.) Other than a brief stint with the Bobcats, Collins hasn’t done much in the NBA. Unless he impresses the coaching staff he will likely stay overseas this season.