San Antonio Spurs: Top 5 shooting guards in franchise history

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BOSTON - 1982: George Gervin
BOSTON - 1982: George Gervin /
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San Antonio Spurs, SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 22: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Manu Ginobili
San Antonio Spurs, SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 22: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Manu Ginobili /

The best shooting guards to play for the San Antonio Spurs in the franchise’s history.

The San Antonio Spurs’ history dates back to the 1970’s, when the team was part of the ABA. They were one of four teams to jump to the NBA in the merger of 1976, along with the New York Nets, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. The Spirits of St. Louis and Kentucky Colonels weren’t far behind but folded and missed out on the NBA.

From the 1970’s to the present day, the Spurs had plenty of shooting guards pass through the organization. One player can be considered top-10 at the position in NBA history.

Who can be considered the best shooting guard in San Antonio history? Let’s look at the top five.

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 9: Danny Green
SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 9: Danny Green /

5. Danny Green

Danny Green is the most recent and current shooting guard to make the list. He’s never been a prolific two-way player for the San Antonio Spurs, but in the value he provides, it makes him slide in at No. 5.

Green started as a relative unknown when he joined the Spurs in the 2010-11 season. He played eight games, but worked his way back to the team in the 2011-12 campaign. That’s when he broke out.

The UNC product shot 43 percent from the 3-point line and played the full 66 games of the strike-shortened season. He averaged 9.1 points, which was a career high, and snagged 3.5 rebounds.

Over the next five seasons, Green shot below 37 percent from behind the arc just once (2015-16) and topped out at 11.7 points. He also claimed the 2013-14 NBA championship.

However, Green’s far from just a 3-point shooter. He continues to provide the Spurs with defensive value on the perimeter. Between the past three seasons, he’s had Defensive Win Shares of 3.9, 4.1, and 3.0. Along with nearly one steal and one block per game, it makes Green’s presence top-notch for defense. It even won him a spot on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team for the 2016-17 season.

Green has at least one season left with the Spurs, before he can use his player option for 2018-19. So, there’s one more year to see how his career with the team plays out.

Next: Alvin Robertson

BOSTON – 1987: Alvin Robertson
BOSTON – 1987: Alvin Robertson /

4. Alvin Robertson

Alvin Robertson was one of the San Antonio Spurs’ highest and most successful picks made in the NBA Draft. He came in as the No. 7 selection in the 1984-85 season, which was promising start to his career. This only went up a notch in the 1985-86 season.

For the next four seasons, Robertson performed as one of the team’s top players. He averaged between 17 and 20 points through his four prime years with the organization, including three consecutive All-Star appearances. There was a knack on the defensive end, as well, with at least 3.0 steals per game, two seasons of which landed him near the top of the NBA in this category.

Robertson did this through some of the Spurs’ toughest seasons. From 1984-89, the team had a 156-254 record, with his last go-around on the team the year before David Robinson reported after Navy duty.

After the 1989 season, the Spurs shipped Robertson to the Milwaukee Bucks in a multi-player trade for Terry Cummings. He never found the same success, which may have been due to his role on a worse team in San Antonio. However, his production in those first five years as the go-to player gives places him as the No. 4 shooting guard in the team’s history.

Next: Willie Anderson

ATLANTA – 1990: Willie Anderson
ATLANTA – 1990: Willie Anderson /

3. Willie Anderson

As the Alvin Robertson era ended, the Willie Anderson era began at shooting guard. Anderson was selected 10th overall in the 1988 NBA Draft, while Robertson departed after the 1988-89 season.

In Anderson’s rookie season, he broke out and peaked at 18.6 points per game. It ended up as his career high by over 3.0 points, as well as a shooting percentage of 49.8. This was the highest on the team, and just above Robertson’s numbers.

By the 1989-90 season, Anderson played a sidekick role to David Robinson, which he fit in well with. A 49 percent mark from the field and 15.7 points per game were among the best on a loaded Spurs team that featured Robinson, Terry Cummings, and Rod Strickland. They won 56 games and made it to the Western Conference Semifinals.

For the next four-and-a-half years, Anderson played a supporting role. His shooting percentage never dipped below 43.0, but injuries played a factor. From 1991-95, he played 70-plus games for the Spurs just once. Eventually, Anderson’s role was reduced to just 14.6 minutes per game in the 1994-95 season, and he was selected in the Expansion Draft by the Toronto Raptors.

Anderson played a consistent role on the Spurs and lasted longer than Robertson. He never made an All-Star Game, but put up solid numbers on quality teams.

Next: Manu Ginobili

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 22: Manu Ginobili
SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 22: Manu Ginobili /

2. Manu Ginobili

It’s the fan-favorite and the man who will return for a 16th NBA season. Manu Ginobili would have gone down as the No. 1 shooting guard in San Antonio Spurs history if it wasn’t for a player that preceded him about 15-20 years prior.

Ginobili found success from the moment he stepped onto the basketball court. He only played a bench role, but provided outside shooting and a defensive presence to contribute to the 2003 NBA Championship.

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Two years later, Ginobili became the full-time starter at shooting guard for the Spurs. He shot, what turned out to be, a career high of 47 percent from the field for 16.0 points and the first of two All-Star Game appearances. It also helped the team win the 2005 NBA championship.

For the next 10 years, Ginobili played any role the Spurs asked. From starter to sixth man or seventh man and a reduced bench role, he did anything for Gregg Popovich. Two more titles (2007, 2014) were won, with production decreasing as his minutes and games played winded down.

The 2017-18 season could be the last go-around for Ginobili and an opportunity to cement his legacy. It may not be in a large capacity, but if the Spurs can climb back to the Western Conference’s peak and win the 2018 NBA championship, then it’s the chance for him to go out on top.

Next: George Gervin

BOSTON – 1982: George Gervin
BOSTON – 1982: George Gervin /

1. George Gervin

George Gervin tops the list as the best shooting guard in San Antonio Spurs history. He dominated from the second the Virginia Squires sold him and, for the next two decades, was considered the top Spur in franchise history.

Gervin found his greatest success from age 25 to 29, peaking with four seasons as the NBA’s scoring leader. The averages ranged from 27.2 to 33.1 points per game. They came on an absurd number of field goal attempts, including leading the NBA by nearly 300 in the 1979-80 season (he finished with 1,940).

Getting all these field goal attempts and points came from this fast-paced offense that San Antonio ran through the 1970’s and 80’s. It maxed out his offensive numbers to the point where it will be difficult to top the franchise numbers from anyone that steps on the court for the Spurs.

The Iceman kept the franchise stable, as they never had a losing season with him on the team, except for the 1983-84 campaign. The Spurs didn’t get past the Western Conference Finals, however, as they lost out in 1982 and 1983.

Must Read: 25 forgotten players that were on the Spurs

With all the production Gervin gave the Spurs, it gave him the top spot for the franchise’s shooting guards. His No. 44 is also retired and has a legacy that will live on.

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