Just a few short days before they opened up training camp for the 2021-22 NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs dropped one last bit of news to send excitement for the impending season even higher. After spending a few years enjoying his retirement, Manu Ginobili would be making a formal return to the Spurs.
Unlike some of the other moves they've made this offseason, you'll be hard-pressed to find any Spurs fans who took issue with the organization's most recent decision. Ginobili was named "Special Advisor to Basketball Operations", a title that, while vague, gives him the freedom to impact just about every facet of the organization. As Gregg Popovich detailed during media day, Manu will have free range to help out in whichever way the team needs him to.
"He’s going to do everything," said Popovich. "He’s going to help (general manager) Brian (Wright) in management. He’s going to help me with coaching. He’s going to help the players with development. He’s probably going to go scout some people. I think he’s probably going to figure out a two-week trip to Italy to scout foreign players. I’ll go with him. But I’m being serious, he’s going to do all those things and see where he feels comfortable."
The front office work and player scouting will certainly be interesting but it'll be harder to see those changes put in practice, at least for those of us outside the Spurs organization. What interests fans most is the impact that Manu can have in coaching up the younger players on the team. Manu's been through it all. His ability to impart the things he learned across 23 seasons of professional basketball on the young players on this Spurs team will be invaluable in this season and in the years to come.
The whole organization is going to benefit from Manu's presence but there are sure to be players who will get more out of his mentorship than others. Here are the three players who will benefit most from having Manu in their corner this season.