5. Manu Ginobili
While Kawhi Leonard’s book is far from over, Manu Ginobili’s may be in its last chapter. He’ll return to the San Antonio Spurs for a 16th NBA season in 2017-18, but at age 40, a point that few players reach in their respective careers.
In 1999, the Spurs selected Ginobili in Round 2 of that year’s NBA Draft. He didn’t report to the team until the 2002-03 season, but proved to be worth the wait.
Ginobili worked as a top player off the bench for 2002-03, scoring 7.6 points per game as a 25-year-old. His 34 percent shooting from 3-point range also helped toward the organization winning the 2003 NBA Finals.
By 2003-04, Ginobili broke out with heavier minutes and better numbers. This continued its ascension in the 2004-05 season, with a career-high 47 percent shooting and 16 points per game. That, too, got the Spurs toward the 2005 NBA championship.
For the next 12 years, Ginobili was about as versatile as any player in the NBA. No matter what role the Spurs gave him, he adapted. This came to light when the team made him come off the bench in 2007-08, but still came through with over 19 points per game in over 31 minutes to earn the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.
In 2007 and 2014, Ginobili added two more titles to his list of accolades. For the latter, he did this in what was one of the smallest roles of his career. However, as in years past, the reduction was no issue for him (potentially due to age, too).
Ginobili will go down as one of the Spurs’ best and most popular players of all time. 2017-18 may be his last NBA season, so embrace what he can do now before it’s all over.