The San Antonio Spurs list 18 players on the roster heading into training camp, and Air Alamo will break down each of the current players, their strengths, weaknesses, chances to make the roster and expectations for the 2015-16 NBA season.
Manu Ginobili, a fixture in the Spurs rotation for 13 years, jumps into the countdown at No. 8 during what could be his final season.
Who Is He?
Ginobili is one of the reasons San Antonio is lauded for its ability draft international prospects. The franchise selected the shooting guard 57th overall—the second-to-last pick—in the 1999 NBA Draft.
Sixteen years later, Ginobili is one of the most decorated non-American players in the history of the sport. A 6’6″, 205-pound shooting guard, he’s a four-time NBA champion, two-time All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, Euroleague champion and former NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
Ginobili is a shoo-in for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s not the NBA HOF. International pioneer. Gets him in.
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) January 23, 2014
Ginobili has spent a strong majority of the last four seasons as the Spurs sixth man, averaging between 22.7 and 23.3 minutes per year. In 2014-15, he tallied 10.5 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 turnovers per game.
Strengths and Weaknesses
What once were Ginobili’s undeniable strengths have slowly become above-average skills. After all, being 38 years old will do that to a player. He’s still a creative passer, decent three-point shooter and respectable defender.
However, Ginobili is no longer the nifty finisher he once was, and his off-balance prayers have typically required more forgiveness than praise lately.
Ginobili’s days of pick-and-roll dominance are well in the past. Last season, his 0.72 points per possession as the pick-and-roll ball-handler were most comparable to Austin Rivers, Greivis Vasquez and Evan Turner, per NBA.com.
Turnovers and inconsistent shooting have plagued Ginobili, who in 2014-15 posted a career-high 18.5 turnover percentage and his worst true shooting percentage (54.4) since 2003-04.
What to Expect in 2015-16
Consequent to the Spurs spending their final pennies of the salary cap on LaMarcus Aldridge, Ginobili was a necessary evil who will always be a fan favorite.
The 38-year-old will be flanked by a couple new teammates—David West and a to-be-determined small forward—off the bench, since Aron Baynes and Marco Belinelli signed lucrative free agent contracts elsewhere.
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Despite repeated lapses in execution and an overall decline in effectiveness, San Antonio desperately needed Ginobili to run the second unit. Patty Mills isn’t capable of running the point for 82 games plus the postseason, Ray McCallum isn’t quite there and Kyle Anderson isn’t ready for the job.
Ginobili will commit head-shaking turnovers, hoist eyebrow-raising shots and battle through cold shooting streaks. Yet through it all, San Antonio will love Ginobili for every three-pointer, acrobatic shot and jaw-dropping pass.
He’s not the player he once was, but Ginobili is still capable of helping the Spurs put together a championship run.