San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili is considered one of the biggest threats on this team. Any Spurs fan would like to give the biased opinion of Sixth Man of The Year award to Manu, but, for this current season, is he the man that everyone is voting for? The answer is not necessarily.
Ginobili is going up against some big contenders for the award. Senior Writer for ESPN.com, and NBA Power Ranking guru, Marc Stein, has Ginobili placed 3rd, behind Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. And fan/media favorite, Bulls’ Taj Gibson taking the trophy.
However, I do feel that for this award statistics will triumph over what the naked eye sees. But, when looking at the candidates for this award, it will be a very hard win because of the versatility from all top three contestants. With that being said, I have a feeling that Jamal Crawford will come out on top over Gibson and the Spurs’ long-time sixth man, Ginobili, will come in third.
Let’s first start with Ginobili. Back in 2007-08 when he won the award, he was averaging 19.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 4.5 apg. Ridiculous numbers coming straight off the bench. This season Ginobili is averaging 12.4 ppg, 3 rpg, and 4.3 apg. Compare these numbers to Crawford’s 18.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, and 3.2 apg or Gibson’s 13 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.4 blkpg. Almost not comparable when looking at minutes that each player is in the game for.
Gibson: 28.7 mpg; Crawford: 30.3 mpg; and Ginobili with a lower 22.8 mpg. When looking at stats compared to minutes, it is easy to see that Ginobili just falls short of thee other two players. However, the difference between Ginobili and Crawford/Gibson: Ginobili is on a team where he can get help from other guys off the bench. Manu does not need to be the only man coming from the bench to bring the impact or offensive push in the game.
He has assistance from teammates like Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli and Boris Diaw. For the season Marco Belinelli has the most minutes per game from anyone off the bench (25.2), while Diaw is trailing close behind (25.0). This gives Ginobili the disadvantage amongst the other candidates. With the bench deeper than ever, Manu does not have to exert himself like he has in the past. Although, he is still one of the most efficient players on the team, falling second to Tim Duncan at 20.1 PER as well as being the most efficient player off the bench in the league, he is still just as efficient as ever but with more help on the team, he doesn’t put up the same numbers as he used to.
Now, Chicago’s Taj Gibson is playing 28.7 minutes per game and gets most of his work done in the clutch. He may not have the numbers, but he contests shots, gets big rebounds and buckets. Gibson may have also won his spot as the starting power forward for the Bulls, because he is outplaying the veteran who is making twice as much as him.
Gibson is recognized more for his defense and his intangibles than his offense, this giving Gibson a different type of advantage over Manu and Jamal.
Clippers’ guard Jamal Crawford easily has the best stats when looking at all sixth man candidates. He is hotter than ever this season. From ESPN.com, “Crawford is averaging 18.6 points in 66 games this season — most among NBA reserve players– but 22.5 points and 5.3 assists a game when Paul has been out of the lineup.” Crawford is at the point in his life where he understands the role of being the sixth man on a team and he embraces it. He takes it to another level especially when injuries occur and he knows he is needed. When given the minutes, Crawford delivers effectively. He finished with 34 pts, 5 reb, and 8 assists while playing 42 minutes in the loss to Portland in the season finale. If anything, that was his exclamation point to end the season and to voters. Crawford has been longing to go to the playoffs and feels that winning is all that he plans to do.
All-in-all, Manu Ginobili will be going against a tough lineup of athletes. One of which that shows just how his defensive tactics are a major factor when taking the role of sixth man, and another whom is determined to take the court all on his own just to get to the playoffs and finally get a win that he’s been longing for. Of course Spurs fans would love to see Manu take the trophy home, but it will be a close matchup.