Sports Illustrated is ranking the 100 best players in the league, like they do every year. The first part has been published, ranking players ranging from 100 to 50 as well as mentioning others that were close to making the cut. Three Spurs were among those included: Manu Ginobili, David West and Tony Parker.
Manu and West were among the notable snubs, ranking behind Josh Smith, Reggie Jackson, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Donatas Motiejunas, among others. Tony, meanwhile, was ranked 53rd in the league, right above Kobe Bryant and below Rudy Gay.
Here are the blurbs on the Spurs players, but make sure to read the full list because Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney know their stuff.
Manu Ginobili (Snubbed)
Without question, last season saw significant slippage from Manu Ginobili, 38, who never quite managed to be the same situational piece of dynamite that he was during San Antonio's run to the 2014 title. The legendary Argentinean sixth man didn't see his per-game numbers fall off a cliff, necessarily, but the eye test was less kind to him, particularly during the playoffs. Ginobili's 16.2 PER was the lowest since his rookie campaign, his 3.7 Win Shares were the fewest of his career, and his eight points per game and 34.9% shooting in the playoffs represented career-lows. Try as he might to ignite the Spurs' tough first-round series against the Clippers, he just couldn't do it. If not for San Antonio's monster summer, which included the re-signing of Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard plus the addition of All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, one wonders if Ginobili would have hung it up rather than re-up on a two-year, $5.7 million contract. — B.G.
I would love to disagree with Golliver but it's true Manu didn't look nearly as sharp last season as he did on 2013/14. Part of that can be attributed to the injury-related absences of Patty Mills and Tiago Splitter in the second unit, but Manu undeniably struggled at times.
David West (Snubbed)
Selected to the Top 100 in each of the last two years, West falls off the list this year due to the one-two blow of age-related decline and a distinct change of scenery. West, 35, has seen his scoring and Player Efficiency drop in each of the last two seasons, and his somewhat surprising, angst-infused departure from Indiana signaled an end-of-career urgency to chase a ring. The 6'9" power forward will take up that cause with the Spurs, where he joins a frontcourt that is absolutely loaded with contributors: Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner, among them. How, exactly, West fits into the rotation puzzle remains to be seen, but his leadership, experience, toughness and willingness to sacrifice financially (he effectively took an $11 million pay cut in moving from Indiana to San Antonio) make him a natural addition to the Spurs' team-first culture. — B.G.
West is entering a stage of his career in which he won't be a featured player and has done so willingly, signing with the Spurs after LaMarcus Aldrdige was already in tow. He will come off the bench for the first time since his third season in the league, back in 2005. Obviously that will reduce his impact, which is why it's understandable for him to fall out of the top 100.
Tony Parker (Ranked 53. Last year: 15)
Clever though Parker may be, players of his type—driving point guards reliant on their quickness—don't tend to age gracefully. That reality makes his decline in back-to-back seasons as explicable as it is worrisome. We've seen Parker neutralized by age and nagging injury to the point of postseason irrelevance. While it's very much possible a sore Achilles was largely to blame for Parker's latest sputter, the broader trends in his performance are nevertheless discouraging. Were Parker on another team that didn't so expertly disguise his limitations, his current reputation could be quite different. – R.M.
That is one precipitous fall for Parker. After being considered the 15th best player in the league in 2013/14 he couldn't even crack the top 50 this season. It's not exactly surprising; after all, Tony did have arguably his worst season since his rookie year. The crazy thing is Parker is also two years removed from a career-best performance, in which he led the Spurs to the finals. Injuries have made him look old beyond his years and there's a chance he won't get the magic back.
Fortunately, this upcoming season the Spurs won't need him to play like a traditional star. He can focus on his floor game and pick his spots, which could lead to yet another reinvention for the 33-year-old. Aldridge will handle the scoring load with help from Leonard, liberating Tony to do his best Mike Conley impersonation during the regular season. If he can do that and gets to the playoffs healthy, the ranking could prove to be too low.
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Of the players that left the Spurs in the offseason only Tiago Splitter made the cut, at the 74 spot. It's hard to argue with that decision. Marco Belinelli, Cory Joseph and Aron Baynes are nice rotation pieces but they are far from irreplaceable.
Danny Green is conspicuously missing from the list so far. That could mean he will be left off altogether or -- more likely -- that he will be named one of the best 50 players in the league. His contract is a steal.
Do you agree with the rankings? Let us know in the comments.