What if Manu Ginobili spent his career as the first option?

Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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Manu starts to peak

After a few years of Manu putting up absurd scoring numbers but his team not really going anywhere, whichever franchise he is on eventually stumbles into some draft luck. Jamal Crawford is a solid piece, and in upcoming drafts, Manu’s team adds either Chris Bosh, Andre Iguodala, Pau Gasol, Amar'e Stoudemire, or LaMarcus Aldrige.

Take your pick of who you want Manu to play alongside. His team now allows him to play a combo guard position, dominant with the ball, with a solid young big, and Crawford off the bench. For my purposes, I’ll give Ginobili and his squad LaMarcus Aldridge, but you can imagine whoever you want. 

As we approach the 2007 NBA season, the Spurs are still doing great, about to win their fourth title, and Manu and company are starting to make some noise in the playoffs. At this point, Ginobili is shooting 35% from deep and averaging 27 points. He is a consistent All-Star, but since his team is never in the Finals conversation, he is yet to win an MVP award. He probably wins a scoring title at some point in the mid-2000s and is named to the All-NBA First Team, but wins matter, and those are few and far between. 

By the time Aldridge -- or whoever -- starts to get good, Manu has clearly hit his stride. The year is 2010, and LeBron James wants a change of scenery. He doesn't want to go to Chicago since the Bulls have Manu, not Derrick Rose. He ultimately settles on New York, as the glitz and glamor are too attractive. Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony join him, forming a 2003 draft class big three.