AT&T CENTER – In his pregame media scrum, the question was asked to Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr, can you imagine Spurs guard Manu Ginobili playing one to two more years?
“I can see Manu playing when he’s like 58,” said Kerr. “Honestly, he loves the game. He keeps himself in such great shape. I thought he was going to retire last year, so, the fact that he came back this year surprised me, but, I know how much he loves it and he loves his family being part of it. His kids are out there shooting around before games and wearing his jersey. That’s a huge thrill when you’re older and later in your career to be able to share your career with your family and your kids so it wouldn’t shock me at all if Manu came back next year.”
On paper, Ginobili is expected to return next season, since his deal is already guaranteed for the 2018-19 season. But, Ginobili might also decide to retire this summer, where he’ll be turning 41 in July. Asked if there’s a goal Ginobili is still trying to accomplish, Kerr didn’t think so, but, Kerr knows Ginobili’s play today is mainly based off his love for the game.
“I don’t know that Manu needs a goal,” said Kerr. “I think he plays for the love of the game, just the passion. I don’t think you can play at 40 unless you truly love what you do everyday and I played with Manu his rookie year, that was 2003, you could see the joy and the competitive desire and the passion every single day. And, it doesn’t seem to have waned 18 years later, 15 years later, crazy.”
From there, Kerr was asked if Ginobili is still a factor even at age 40 and his All-Star years behind him.
“Yeah, we have to game plan for the guy,” said Kerr. “We still have to walk-through the Ginobili plays that the Spurs run today at shootaround. He’s still coming down hill at you full bore, you know with that left hand dominant drive. Even though you know he’s going to go back to his left, you know it’s coming. He still manages to get there. I still remember maybe his rookie year, Sean Elliot had maybe the best line about Manu when he drives in the lane. He said, ‘he looks like a squirrel running through traffic trying to dodge cars.’ He’s going like this and you can’t stay in front of him and then he explodes to the hoop. He’s still doing it and it’s amazing.”
While on the surface Ginobili doesn’t put up his old prime numbers with averages of 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists today, but, when you dig deeper into some of the statistics, you’ll see he’s still one of the better wings in the NBA at his position despite the disparity in age.
He uses 21.9% of his teams possessions, which puts him in the 75th percentile among wings. Ginobili is one of the few Spurs who can still create his own shot, as only 54% of his made baskets are assisted on, putting him in elite company among wings at the 88th percentile. In terms of creating for others, Ginobili is still doing that at a high level as he accounts for 19.3% of his teams assists, which puts him in the 89th percentile among wings.
Lastly, like Kerr mentioned, Ginobili still shows flashes of that squirrel in traffic as he’s fouled on 2.3% of his teams non-shooting foul plays when he’s on the floor, which puts him in the 95th percentile.
All stats via NBA.com and CleaningTheGlass.com