Bleacher Report recently listed their Top Ten all-time shooting guards, and two Spurs made the list. George “The Iceman” Gervin came in at number 10, and Manu Ginobili came in at number 6.
Perhaps because he spent his first four years in the ABA, and never played in a big market, people outside of South Texas may forget how good Gervin was. As pointed out in the article:
Gervin was one of the most prolific scorers basketball’s ever produced. Despite only playing 10 NBA seasons, he’s 40th all-time in points scored. If you go by points per game, he rockets up to ninth.
If you add back in his four years in the ABA, Gervin rises to the 16th leading career scorer.
He would have fit in well with the current mid-range iteration of the Spurs. For his career, he took only 0.6 threes per game — and with good reason, as he was a 27% three point shooter. Remind you of anyone on the current Spurs?
Of course, if you had a signature finger-roll shot like Gervin, why trade that for a shot you are not good at? As a result of that unique finger-roll and his mid-range jumper, Gervin shot almost 51% from the field for his career, winning four scoring titles. He also averaged 5.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game. So, yes, The Iceman’s top-ten position is certainly warranted, and perhaps a bit low.
I feel good about My Man Manu’s 6th place ranking, especially since his overall scoring numbers pale next to the others in the Top Ten. Most prominent is Manu’s 13.3 scoring average, which is significantly less than everyone else on the list. Indeed, the next lowest scoring average is over 5 points more than Manu — Ray Allen (booooo!) at 18.9 ppg. And Manu is barely half of Gervin’s scoring average, and well less than half of the number one player on the list, Michael Jordan (of course).
However, a deeper dive into the numbers reveals part of the disconnect between Manu’s pedestrian career scoring average and his overall contributions. As pointed out by BR:
But those per-75-possession numbers from Manu’s 10-year peak are plenty impressive: 22.1 points, 5.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals, with a 59.1 true shooting percentage.
Those 5.9 assists per 75-possessions tied Manu for third most on the Top Ten list, and one of the players with a higher average is James Harden, who is really a point guard in today’s game.
When looking past the raw numbers, the article recognizes Manu’s unique contributions above and beyond scoring and other stats:
To attempt to discredit Ginobili for coming off the bench is to ignore one of the 21st century’s most impactful basketball players.
On top of his four NBA titles, two All-Star appearances, two top-10 MVP finishes, two All-NBA selections and 2008 Sixth Man of the Year, Manu has one of the game’s most impressive international resumes.
“To San Antonio fans, he is the most loved Spurs player ever,” FIBA.com noted. “To Argentina, he is a national hero. To the world, he is the person who made Team USA beatable and forced the United States to reassess how it approached international basketball.”
San Antonio and Argentina agree, and we here at PtR salute Manu Ginobili once again.