No. 31 Manu Ginobili
This season, the Argentine will be playing for a team on its last legs. Point guard Tony Parker is in the final year of his contract, and will be shopped if San Antonio isn’t a contender off the bat. Tim Duncan is still producing, but DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter are preparing to step up. Fact is, if this group can’t put a deep playoff run together in ’10-11, a new crew of faces will be leading the Spurs come next October. Regardless, Ginobili will be in tow; he just signed a three-year, $39 million extension that’ll keep him in the AT&T Center locker room mentoring the young crop for what could be the remainder of his career.
Statistically speaking, the guy’s been a model of consistency. For six straight seasons he’s scored in the mid-to-upper teens per contest, while dishing an average of 3-5 assists and swiping a steal and a half each outing. His health has wavered as of late, but when he’s on the court, you know what you’re getting: 110 percent effort, whether he’s working with 10, 50 or 80 percent of his body in tact. And for such a talent, he made no fuss about coming off the bench year after year; he simply doesn’t care about starting the contest, because he knows he’ll be finishing it.