This summer, Manu Ginobili had thoughts of shame and disappointment running through his head after his very underwhelming performance in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.
Many wondered if what was on display against Miami was the Manu Ginobili we should expect to see from here on out. Eight turnovers in Game 6 marked the low point and called for his retirement among fans throughout the nation. After stating that he considered it, Ginobili ended up re-signing with the San Antonio Spurs for two more seasons, looking to redeem himself after allowing the championship to slip right through his fingers.
After the news of the signing, many believed that this is the beginning of a lesser role, where Danny Green and Marco Belinelli take on the bigger duties and more relied on than Manu. Since then, Ginobili has bounced back in a way that has fans believing a redemption is possible.
Ginobili’s numbers at the moment are similar to those he posted last regular season, but he’s shooting at a slightly higher percentage. His efficiency has increased from 42.5 percent to 47.9 percent and his 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game are getting him in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation. One big move for him as that his duties are no longer only being a shooter or scorer, but he’s taken more of a playmaking role.
The new playing style has Ginobili improving on his distribution, while also waiting for more efficient opportunities to score, rather than driving in and being the reckless Manu Ginobili that we saw in his prime. From the 2005 championship year that he averaged six free throw attempts per game, he is now at a point where he has to reserve his body for the playoffs, only averaging 1.8 attempts a game so far this season.
Ginobili’s overall game is more focused on making his teammates better than it ever has before. His cuts, step backs and gambles on defense are still very much existent, but the result is more often than before him looking to set others up. Driving into the lane, he’s finding the big man whom the defender has sagged from. Freeing up space on the perimeter, he only takes the shot if it’s that open for him to take. Gambles on double teams and steals are there, though he waits for the smarter opportunities to take advantage of them now, and on times that he succeeds, he’s usually executing an outlet pass to the Spur out in front, rather than taking it up himself.
Thanks to contributions from Belinelli and Green, the Spurs have been able to limit Ginobili’s minutes and keep him from doing too much. Also, Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw looking to expand their offense in the Spurs system has helped take the scoring responsibilities off him a bit. The team currently sits at a 22-7 record, third best in the conference, which doesn’t call for any panic or other reason that Manu is needed more.
It’s still early on in the season, but if this Manu Ginobili is anything like the Manu Ginobili we’ll see in the playoffs, they may indeed have their redemption.