San Antonio Spurs: Expectations for Manu Ginobili in 2017-18

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 24: Manu Ginobili
SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 24: Manu Ginobili /

The San Antonio Spurs will bring back Manu Ginobili for his 16th NBA season. How might things fare in potentially his final year?

Manu Ginobili is back for his 16th season in the NBA. He re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs for two years, $5 million. 2017-18 is the potential last ride for Ginobili in the NBA, even with the two-year deal. He’s 40-years-old and, in any sport, players hardly last this long. It’s a year-by-year basis.

So, 2017-18 may be Ginobili’s final year. Based on his past three seasons of production, there’s not much to expect from him anymore. If anything, veteran leadership that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet will be his biggest contribution.

Ginobili finished the 2016-17 season with just 7.5 points on 39 percent shooting in 18.7 minutes per game, all of which were career-low numbers. He played a solid 69 games, but started none of them, so Gregg Popovich deployed him as a full-time backup at shooting guard.

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The numbers should remain similar for the 2017-18 season, if not dwindling by a few notches. That would come with fewer minutes, something he’s faced in each of the past six seasons. Maybe closer to 15 minutes per game, another career low.

By playing almost 15 minutes per game, look for the two-time NBA All-Star to put up fewer than 7.5 points. That means something around 6.0-6.5 points as he falls back for Brandon Paul and Bryn Forbes, if Popovich awards them quality minutes.

If Paul and Forbes struggle, maybe Ginobili keeps a similar amount of playing time. That could even be the case if Popovich decides to gradually work in his younger guards as backups. So, the veteran would begin with around 17-20 minutes per game, but fall back by midseason or three-quarters through.

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This season could be Ginobili’s final one. It could be another nostalgic ride as fans look back on the player of old. He is old, though, and likely won’t be a major statistical factor for the 2017-18 season, potentially his last. Don’t expect too much from him at age 40, except to see him be a role player on one of the Western Conference’s best teams.