clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Spurs had two of the best defensive guards of the last 40 years

New, comments

FiveThirtyEight.com’s RAPTOR Ratings continue to love the Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

While we are in lock-down amid the Coronavirus pandemic, we are watching more television. And this means we are all watching more commercials, all of different levels of quality.

I always enjoy the commercials that try to sell you someone’s invention. Frying pans which will never burn and which you can clean by flicking your wrist. A work-out gadget than can make you look like the models in the commercial — in less than ten minutes per day, with virtually no actual effort. Vitamins which restore your youthful vigor, without any actual medical or scientific basis, only someone saying “This worked for me!”

The commercials always give the price, which is always on the cusp of being a surprisingly good deal if the product works as advertised. And we all know what comes next: “But wait, there’s more!” This is where they add stuff; you get a book full of recipes for the magic frying pan, you get two of the product for the price of one, you get a full money back guarantee, you get one of those work-out gadget models to visit your home on a Saturday evening of your choice.

In honor of those commercials, I thought I would follow up on my piece from Friday. That piece was great for Spurs fans. It told us that the very smart people at FiveThirtyEight.com determined that 4 of the top 15 players of the past 40 years were Spurs: Kawhi Leonard, David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan.

No other team has more than two. The Houston Rockets have James Harden and Clyde Drexler — but both players had significant time with other teams, especially Clyde. The Golden State Warriors have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, both of whom have spent their careers (so far) with the Warriors. Draymond is a interesting player to be on this list for many reasons, including the fact that he and My Man Manu are the only second round picks on the entire Top 25 list. Indeed, most of the players on the list are top five picks, with the notable exceptions of Kawhttps://www.sbnation.com/nba/players/296742/danny-greenohn Stockton and ... Kobe Bryant.

So all that is great, and you were probably ready to buy Friday’s piece already. But wait, Spurs fans, there’s more!

If you looked at the rankings at the end of Friday’s piece, you saw that a fair amount of Jordan’s value came from his defensive prowess. You also saw that the analysis determined that most of the top defensive rankings belong to big guys, including David Robinson at +5.2 and the Great Duncan at +3.7.

So the geniuses at FiveThirtyEight took the next step in that same article and separated out the guards from the big guys to analyze the best guard defenders in past 40+ years. In doing that, the geniuses gave a lot of happiness to this Danny Green (!!!) fan:

Let me repeat: These rankings cover every NBA guard who has played in the NBA since three years before Magic and Bird joined the league through 2019-2020. Number two among all those thousands of players is Danny Green. Danny Green!!

Ironically, Tony Allen is the only player above DG for the past 40 years. Only obsessive Pounding the Rock readers will remember my ill-fated 2016 article comparing DG to non-shooter Tony Allen. That piece led directly to an uncomfortable late night phone call to this writer on April 1, 2016, as reported here. Luckily, Danny did not hold either of those against me when I finally met him this year at the Staples Center.

Former Spurs guard Alvin Robertson comes in at number three.

But wait, there’s more!

For all of us who proudly own the “Manu Forever” shirt from Breaking T AND a number 20 Manu jersey AND Manu’s Team Argentina uniform, we get to see Manu Ginobili as the seventh best guard defender since 1976. That makes this list all the more special. GINOBILI!