Which Spurs Big Three record can eventually be broken?
By Josh Paredes
The San Antonio Spurs were fortunate enough to field three of the greatest players the game has ever seen for well over a decade, and they have five NBA championships to show for it. What they did so well under Coach Popovich was adapt to the ever-changing NBA, which allowed them to be so successful for so long.
With the legendary trio now departed, the league has continued to evolve every year, and the difference in styles and team practices is staggering in some aspects. Given their longevity in San Antonio and sustained excellence for so long, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili will probably hold several franchise records forever.
Team records like games played (1,392), points (26,496), and blocks (3,020) will remain Tim Duncan's for good. Another record like total assists (6,829) will probably remain with Tony Parker after his 17 seasons in San Antonio. But there's one major record by a member of the Big Three, though still very far from being caught, that could eventually be surpassed.
Is a Spur passing up Manu Ginobili in made threes inevitable?
Currently, Manu Ginobili leads the Spurs' all-time 3-pointers made list by 324 over the second-place shooter, Patty Mills. He did so over the course of 1,057 games and a career average of 1.4 threes made per game to achieve his substantial mark of 1,495 total made trifectas.
His record is definitely something that no one will touch anytime soon, but when you look at the direction the NBA is trending, Ginobili's record is probably the most likely to be threatened over the next 10 years. Over his 16-year career in the Alamo City, Ginobili only made more than 1.9 threes per game once, when he reached 2.1 in the 2007-08 season.
This season, Doug McDermott and Keldon Johnson both reached that mark. In 2021, Patty Mills (2.4) and Derrick White (2.3) both eclipsed that mark.
What any current and future Spurs have going for them is the quantity of threes being taken in today's game. San Antonio might still be toward the back end of threes attempted every season, but even that figure is far more than they used to take.
Who's the biggest threat to breaking Ginobili's record?
Right now, it's too early to be able to predict who could seriously threaten Manu's all-time record. For all we know, that guy might not even be on the Spurs right now. The current Spur with the most made 3-pointers is Lonnie Walker with 257, but the odds aren't very high he'll be a lifetime, high-usage Spur for the next decade.
Behind Walker on the current roster are Keldon Johnson at 232 made threes and Dejounte Murray at 218. Murray is capable of knocking down perimeter shots, but he's unlikely to average much higher than the 1.4 made threes per game he had this season.
Even if he was to continue to average the 116 made threes he was on pace for if he played every game this season, that would mean he'd still need 11 more seasons of shooting at that clip without missing a game. Obviously, that's unrealistic, but it just illustrates how much of a tall task it would still be to reach the record.
Using the same system for Keldon Johnson and the 174 made threes he was on pace to make if he played all 82 games this season, he would tie Ginobili's record after just over seven more seasons on that pace. Of course, injuries and off years will happen, so that time frame would be an underestimation, but it shows there's at least an opening even for someone not known as a 3-point specialist.
The best bet currently is probably on Johnson, but a lot of that will depend on if this year was a bit of a fluke from long range or if he can reproduce those results (or even increase them). Other dark horse candidates for being threats might be Devin Vassell or Josh Primo, depending on how their roles flesh out and whether they stick with the franchise for a long time.
It's still several years from happening, but the NBA's increasingly 3-point-happy game will eventually lead to someone catching Manu Ginobili's prestigious record. If and when it happens, hopefully he'll still be closely involved with the organization to offer his congratulations.