This is the second in a series of posts reviewing the Spurs' season. The first in the series graded the point guards.
Now SpursfanSteve and I will take a gander at the Shoot Guard position for the Spurs. The Spurs seem a little light at SG since they insist on using some of their shooting guards at point, but we won't let that deter us. Coming into the season the big question at Shooting Guard was where would Manu Ginobili play? Would he be starting or would Pop have him coming off the bench yet again? The other question was would anyone else be there to play SG, would James Anderson capitalize on the potential he showed early the previous year? Alas, it wasn't to be, but we did get to see the emergence of one Danny Green.
Let's take a look at the grades.
Big50: Manu got off to a quick start during the regular season, but then broke his hand. That was probably a blessing in disguise for the rest of the team as it happened very early in the year. Manu got hurt another couple of times, but nothing as serious as the hand. The problem for Manu was that he never really got a great rhythm going during the season, as he only played in 34 games. It wasn't that he didn't play well (he led the Spurs in PER), but it was his lowest point per game average since his 2nd year in the league.
Regular Season Grade: B
Manu had an uptick in scoring in the playoffs, but was still his lowest since 2003-2004. Much the same as Tony Parker, Ginobili struggled to be consistant. During the early rounds, he, like all of the Spurs, just cruised through the competition. In the WCF he often forced his game against OKC and ended up committing a lot of turnovers. Manu's TO% was the highest he's ever had in the playoffs. He's getting a lower grade from me here because of what I expect from him. If he has less TO's and more consistency the Spurs have a much better chance of winning.
Playoff Grade: C
SfS: Manu played well during the season when he wasn't injured. Really well, actually, even though his scoring wasn't always there. Aside from the injuries, I really don't have anything to complain about. He wasn't spectacular, just solid, which I also think is a more realistic expectation for him going forward. He'll have a highlight or two per game, and have a highlight game or two per season, but I think his days of utter dominance are probably behind him.
Regular Season: A- (90)
As for the playoffs, Manu unsurprisingly raised his game. The scoring wasn't always there, but he always left an impact. When Pop moved him back to the starting lineup, he didn't struggle.
Playoffs: A (94)
Big50: One of the biggest surprises of the year was the emergence of Danny Green. Pop was quoted somewhere, I'm going off memory here, that Green almost didn't make the team this year. Green was the only Spur to play in all 66 games last year. He averaged 23 minutes a game and easily had his best year of his professional career. Green really stepped up on defense. He often took the best guard on defense and did a really good job.
Regular Season Grade: B
Once the playoffs started Green played well. Unfortunately, what we will remember is the fact that he was benched in the WCF against the Thunder. Green appeared to lose his confidence against OKC, shooting 17% from downtown over the series. Green's inability to hit open shots had Pop put him on the bench, which in turn hurt the Spurs defense since Green was not out on the floor to help guard the likes of Russell Westbrook. Green's back with the Spurs and has said that he is looking for redemption. Let's hope he suceeds.
Playoff Grade: C
SfS: I'm going to take a moment to say "I told you so." During the few minutes Danny got two seasons ago, he impressed me. I said he would be a rotation player. In garbage time, he was aggressive but not "out for himself," and he could defend. Well, last season proved he had those qualities regardless of the situation. I'll admit, I didn't think he would start, and I didn't think he would be as good as he was. He's a starting quality NBA guard, though. He was definitely the surprise of the season, and frankly should have won MIP (I have no idea who did). Even when he was in a shooting slump, he found other ways to impact the game. His ballhandling and court vision both improved throughout the season, as he was occasionally forced to run the point with Gary Neal.
Regular season: A+ (98)
His first playoffs were good, but not great. He started solid, but obviously towards the end, he was on the bench and a non-factor. That said, through the first two series, he was able to do everything that was asked of him. While it would be easy to say that he stunk in the WCF and base the grade primarily on that, he was one of our top 5 players in the first two series and it would be wrong to forget that.
Playoffs: B (85)
Big50: James Anderson must have upset Pop or something, but Anderson barely saw the floor in 2011-2012. I thought he might have a chance to make some impact this year and with Manu going down early he had a chance. I think the play of Danny Green really hurt Anderson's chances to see serious playing time. He was reported to have asked for a trade some time during the season. I hope for Anderson's sake that he can find a place to play and grow, but I doubt that will be with San Antonio.
SfS: The few times Anderson got on the court, he didn't seem to fit. The Spurs rely on crisp ball movement, on knowing what you are going to do with the ball before you even have it, and Anderson always needed an extra count in order to figure it out. And even then, it seemed most of the time he was out to prove something. Instead of proving that he could fit on the team, he often tried to force his way to the basket or took a bad shot. The talent is there. Clearly, he was frustrated by not being in the rotation. I don't blame him for that. But the mental aspects hurt him as much as the injuries or the shooting slump, in my opinion. I think a year in Europe or the D-League will eventually get him back into the NBA as a rotation player, but if he signs an NBA contract now, he's likely to face the same situation he encountered in San Antonio.