Manu Ginobili - Slumping Production and Broken Confidence

Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

Manu Ginobili is off to a rough start this season, averaging career lows in multiple categories. The uncharacteristic poor production is grinding on the 35 year old veteran's confidence and altering how the San Antonio Spurs close games.

Manu Ginobiili is one hell of an offensive talent who has confounded defenses for many years with his efficiently aggressive and unorthodox style of basketball. Now that the obvious is out of the way, time for me to commit sacrilege in the Temple of the Balding One.

Manu has been terrible this year...

...So Far

After missing the opening back-to-back games as well as the second half of the preseason due to back spasms, Ginobili is off to a rocky start in his 10th NBA season. Excluding his rookie season, Manu is currently averaging career lows in a handful of statistical fields.

MIN

FG%

3P%

FTM-A

FT%

REB

AST

STL

TO

PTS

12'-13'

21.4

.373

.167

2.4-3.1

.773

2.1

3.9

0.9

2.7

8.4

Career

27.8

.451

.371

3.9-4.7

.834

4.0

3.9

1.5

2.1

15.1

Manu, of course, isn't playing at 100% and his limited minutes so far lend support to that. Many of us are quick to target the back injury and shrug out a " still getting his legs back" or "just not in game shape yet." This is true but what isn't known is just how far away Manu is from being "100%." In the 2008-09 season, Ginobili returned to the court after major ankle surgery in the offseason. Although the rigors of the sport eventually proved to be too much that season, Manu still managed to average 15.6 PPG, 51 FG%, 39 3P%, 3.2 AST, and 1.9 TO through his first ten games (while averaging 25 minutes of playing time). Obviously not the greatest stats in the world but they impressive for a 30-something year old guard making his return from the injury list. But now, at 35 years old and nearly two decades of that spent playing professional basketball (remember that he started in 1995 back home in Argentina), it's only natural that Manu's recovery, on-court capabilities, and overall production fall short of what we've all grown so fond of.

Metrics Don't Lie.

Mister Manu's struggles this season can be further in the advanced statistics from basketball-reference.com. Ginobili's current PER is at 11.2, well below both his career average (21.7) and the standardized league average of 15. A large percentage of the offense still runs through Manu when he is on the floor but, according to the numbers, Ginobili is actually hindering the team more than helping. Per 100 possessions, Ginobili is turning over the ball nearly 1 out of 4 times and is 23% less productive in points scored. Manu's offensive win-share, an estimate of wins contributed by a player through his overall offense, is at -0.2. Wipe out the name and someone would be more likely to guess Jannero Pargo than Manu Ginobili.

PER

TS%

eFG%

AST%

STL%

TOV%

USG%

ORtg

DRtg

OWS

DWS

WS

WS/48

02'-03'

14.7

.556

.503

15.8*

3.6

17.5

18.5*

106

98

1.8

2.4

4.2

.141

03'-04'

18.5

.536

.474

22.5

3.2

14.9

22.1

107

93

4.0

5.1

9.1

.194

04'-05'

22.3

.609

.533

23.0

2.9

15.0

24.3

117

98

6.4

4.6

11.0

.240

05'-06'

22.4

.593

.524

22.2

3.0

12.8

25.0

117

98

5.1

3.7

8.8

.234

06'-07'

24.1

.609

.539

22.6

2.8

13.4

27.1

117

98

6.3

4.3

10.6

.246

07'-08'

24.3

.612

.540

26.4

2.6

14.5

28.7

116

100

6.6

4.5

11.1

.232

08'-09'

22.9

.594

.524

23.1

2.9

13.3

27.2

114

101

2.7

2.3

5.0

.203

09'-10'

22.5

.584

.514

28.2

2.5

12.7

25.8

118

104

6.5

3.2

9.7

.216

10'-11'

21.7

.581

.509

26.4

2.6

12.7

26.0

116

105*

6.6

3.2

9.9

.195

11'-12'

24.1

.668

.618

30.3

1.6*

16.3

22.7

125

104

3.4

0.9

4.2

.257

12'-13'

11.2*

.486*

.412*

27.8

2.1

23.8*

24.6

88*

104

-0.2*

0.1*

0.0*

-0.004*

Career

21.7

.591

.522

24.1

2.8

14.1

25.0

115

100

49.3

34.3

83.6

.21

* denotes poorest career value

Poor Play Erodes Even the Strongest of Confidence

How often do we see Manu just blatantly pulled within the final minute of 1-2 possession game? It's likely to have happened before but my memory struggles to recall an example prior to Thursday night's game against the visiting New York Knicks. With 1:22 remaining, Coach Popovich substituted out one of the most clutch, play-making players the Spurs have ever seen. And while it is notable that the switch brought in a better defender (Danny Green) with Knicks holding the ball, it was Manu's late play that forced Pop's hand in making the substitution.

The following possession after a Manu turnover (tried to force the ball through a high double-team), the Spurs tried to run a high pick and roll with Parker and Duncan. However, Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd jumped the screen, breaking the looks, and forced Parker to his left, far away from Duncan. Parker then passed, off-balance, to Ginobili coming out of the right corner. Duncan immediately moved over and set a screen on the high wing, allowing Ginobili to break free for an open 20 foot look at the basket with at least 6 feet in-between him and the laterally moving Chandler. Instead of taking the open look, Manu decided to instead lean back for a difficult pass to Parker at the top of the arc. After another failed drive (three defenders collapsed in the paint), Parker kicked back out to an open Ginobili, who then passed on an open catch-and-shoot three-pointer while only four seconds remained on the shot clock.

Giinobili drove and kicked out but by then it was too late. The Spurs acquired a shot clock violation thus giving up the possession and soon a Knicks three-ball that made it a five point game with only 60 seconds left to go. Ginobili finished the game 4-8 from the floor. Three of his makes were at the basket with the fourth being the lone (lucky bounce) mark of a 1-5 performance from deep. As it stands right now, Manu is 4-24 in three-point shooting this season. As of now, the best the Spurs and Manu can do is to keep chipping away, hoping Manu return to form (or at least most of it). Hopefully, after his body re-acclimates to the game, his swagger will return.

Because after passing on those two open looks in one crucial play, it's obvious that Ginobili just doesn't have any confidence in his range.

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