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

Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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Manu Ginobili slows down

By 2014, it’s clear that Ginobili is starting to really slow down. He’s been in the league since 1999, has ten All-Star appearances, a Finals MVP, and a scoring title. He kept a proud franchise afloat after Micheal Jordan retired, and the team belongs to LaMarcus Aldrige now. Those extra three seasons without much help have really taken a toll on Ginobili and his body, and he contemplates retirement. 

He’s still a productive player in this new decade, he just isn’t as good as he used to be. He’s slowing down, but when you add in the 2004 Olympic Medal, there is no doubt that Manu will be a Hall of Famer. An NBA Champion who scored a lot, he is ahead of James Harden on any all-time list. That’s really all any Spurs fan can ask for, right? 

During the summer of 2015, the San Antonio Spurs need someone to help keep them relevant as Duncan and Parker start to slow down. They have a generational talent in Kawhi Leonard, but they need some extra scoring. Manu might be slowing down, but he is still a knockdown shooter who can easily get 15 points a night. So, he signs with the Spurs. In real life, San Antonio pursues LaMarcus Aldrige. Instead, number 20 finds his way home. 

In his first season with the Silver and Black, Manu rejuvenates his career. Since he can play as the second option for the first time, his efficiency and overall production both go up. He makes his last All-Star game as a Spur. He might go into the Hall of Fame as a member of another team, but local fans recognize the greatness he had and welcome him to the AT&T Center as if he was a career Spur. 

Since Manu had to do more and play longer, his peak doesn't last as long, but his individual accolades really add up. He only gets one ring in a loaded East, and if he played on a Western Conference team as the first option, the might of the Lakers, Spurs, Thunder, and Mavericks would still be too much for him to do much else.

Ranking Ginobili's 10 most iconic plays of all time. dark. Next

Either way, Ginobili makes it into the Hall of Fame. In real life, it’s as the greatest sixth man ever and a true winner. As option number one, he makes it in as a prolific scorer who consistently did the impossible.

Manu Ginobili continues with a look at his iconic career by the numbers, from 20-1.