What follows is a translation of Manu Ginobili's column, which was published by Argentine newspaper La Nación on October 18.
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It's still too early to know where we stand. The first few preseason games are used to see what the youngsters and the guys who are trying out can do. That's why us older guys don't play much. I just got 12 minutes in one game (Atlanta) and 13 in the other one (Miami). I think Tim (Duncan) only got 12 minutes last game. From what I know, from this Sunday on, we are going to play like we will during the season. That will allow us to have a better sense of where we are now.
So far we are doing well. Everyone is healthy except for Boris Diaw, who was a little banged up. We are happy and very excited. Sometimes it's a good thing to give the team a makeover. It's not like we've added a lot of players but the two we got will be important for us, a big part of the rotation. That creates a lot of expectations. Having a player like LaMarcus (Aldridge) around, someone so talented and with a high profile, adds some freshness to the team. We feel great and are training with a lot of energy. It's a good moment for us.
We are aware that we've added talented teammates with different styles. We have to adapt to all these new pieces. David (West) has already changed his game even though his style is more classic, like ours. He's a good passer, is quick to move the ball and takes shots when he's open. Those characteristics will make it easy for him to adapt to us. It's a little different with LaMarcus because he's used to isolations, needs the ball and likes to play one-on-one. We just have to adapt to him and he to us and to Pop.
It's possible it will take him a little longer than it will David because David has played in several teams and is more experienced. But LaMarcus is great and even if his adaption period takes longer we need to make him feel welcomed and keep him happy as we adjust to playing with him. We are very lucky to have him around because he takes pressure off the rest of us as far as shot creation is concerned. We just have to play together more and start to fit in with one another.
At the individual level, I feel like I started off better than I expected. I think I did well on the two games I got to play. Granted, I wasn't out there for a lot of minutes but I felt energized, excited and healthy. Obviously at this age there are always some aches but I'm content with how things are going. We still have three more preseason games to tune up, strategize and play more normal rotations than the ones we have so far.
I'm in a good place but that's not surprising during preseason. When games start to count, the schedule gets tougher and the pains get worse, I know things will be more complicated. Right now I'm great and I'm hoping to stay in this mental state for the whole season. At least that's my goal, but truthfully, I don't know how I will feel later. All I know is right now I'm happy.
I'm also aware that this year my playing time will oscillate. There are times when I feel it's right for me to not be on the court because I'm not in the right condition or the pains are stronger than my conviction. Right now I feel that I can help the team with my play. Maybe after 25 games it will start to get tougher for me to do that and I'll have to take a break, but right now I think I can play well and contribute.
I think the 20 minutes and change I averaged last season will be there for me, but I'm not thinking about getting more than that. If I were to play eight minutes a game, then I would get concerned because I wouldn't feel useful. If we keep the same rotation and I get those minutes, I'm cool. That's what I can handle and I think I can help the team if I stay in that range. If I'm asked to play 35 minutes one night, I'm going to be a ghost during the last 15 and will actually be a negative, not a positive.
We are very focused on our team but we haven't talked about whether things will change for me or Tim. My role has been shifting for a while and it's lighter now. I don't have as many responsibilities as before. We'll have to see what happens to Tim now that we have a dominant inside player in LaMarcus. I don't think we'll change that much but they will share the load when we get the ball to the post. They will help each other, I believe. Tim knows LaMarcus is big, athletic and has a great shot so he will look for him. That could reduce Tim's role but I think he will be happy with that.
It's going to be an intense season but I haven't really paid much attention to the changes other teams have made. We are very focused on ourselves and our training so when we play preseason games we don't really talk a lot about scouting. From what I've heard it looks like things the league will be similar to last year's, with the West being very tough and competitive as it has been for the past 15 years while the East has three or four teams that are a step above the rest.
Right now we are only thinking about feeling well and taking advantage of the games we have left before the start of the regular season because that's when the team will start to take shape before our debut against Oklahoma City.