Sunday, September 26th, 2010 at 8:00 am  |  57 responses

Top 50: Manu Ginobili, no. 31

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Adam Figman / @afigman

On page 16 of The Art of a Beautiful Game, while waxing about Kobe’s over-competitiveness, author Chris Ballard drops this little quote from No. 24: “‘I love Manu,’ says Bryant. ‘He plays exactly the way I play, balls to the wall.’”

Hold up.

You’re just gonna sit there and tell me that Manu Ginobili, the guy who uses the fútbol-inspired flop-and-hope-for-call strategy and who’s knoManu Ginobiliwn more for dives than dunks is one of the NBA’s fiercest spirit’s favorite players to go up against? Yeah?

OK then.

I won’t overemphasize that information any further, because its reasoning is pretty straightforward: Manu plays his ass off. He races around the court, D’s up on each possession like it’s his last, curses himself after every missed shot, and puts his all into assisting his teammates and coming out victorious. His attitude, both on and off the court, is exactly what fierce competitors like Kobe thrive on—the style of guys who aren’t afraid get right in their opponent’s face and dare him to make a move.

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.

He’s been rewarded for his play, too. The Spurs have won three championships with Manu as an integral piece, and he made the All-Star game once (’05) and took home the Sixth Man of the Year medal in ’08.

But even more impressive is how his skill translates in all formats. Before he played a single NBA game, Ginobili had a hell of an international résumé: Italian League All-Star in ‘99, ’00 and ’01; FIBA Americas Championship Most Valuable Player in ’01; Italian League Championship and Euroleague Championship with Kinder Bologna in ’01; Italian League MVP in ’01 and ’02. And that was just in Italy.

With the Argentina national team, he won silver at the 2002 FIBA World Championship and gold at the 2004 Olympics. His career should be viewed as a how-to guide for players looking to expand their games, especially as an increased number of ballers take their talents to Europe and beyond.

So yeah: Dude pulls some flops that’d bring a smile to an aging Vlade Divac’s face. Chances are, he can’t help it. Manu’s competitive. He wants to win. Every game. And if that means falling down when the contact didn’t exactly call for it, then it’s happening. You might be inclined to throw your bowl of popcorn at the TV as the ref blows his or her whistle and points down the court, but let’s be real: You wouldn’t complain if he was on your side. There’s a reason why he’s so loved in San Antonio, and why, at the veteran age of 33, he was locked up through ’12-13 for a franchise that’ll be looking to rebuild well before then.

It’s because the Spurs’ front office knows passion like his is contagious, and will rub off on the up-and-comers. It’s because, though he’ll get older and lose much of the quickness that helped him slide through defenders en route to the basket for the past decade, he’s the perfect role model for younger guys who, without focus, could lose their way.

And it’s because, in the fourth quarter, somebody has to guard Kobe. The Lakers’ superstar might enjoy it, but you can bet Manu does even more.

Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 11 10
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 10 9
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 9 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 8 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR
Stephen Curry Warriors PG 35 NR 10 NR
David Lee Warriors PF 34 NR 10 NR
Brook Lopez Nets C 33 NR 2 NR
Gerald Wallace Bobcats SF 32 NR 6 NR
Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 31 29 7 8

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • hoodsnake

    Def the dark horse player of the dark horse team this year. They have veteran leadership , a good rookie , up and coming players and a trading chip to (maybe) push them over the edge

  • MJama

    GINOBILIIIIIIII!!!! This dude has been my favourite player for a pretty long ass time. I seriously hope he gets one more ring before he retires because he obviously deserves it

  • Valerio

    HELL NO!!!!

    Ginobili n31????
    He should be in the top20

  • Groves

    Shooting Guards 6.Eric Gordon 5.Stephen Jackson 4.Brandon Roy 3.Joe Johnson 2.Dwayne Wade 1.Kobe Bryant… that is unless Caron Butler is considered a Shooting Guard

  • The Lord of Nsam (formerly known as Fresh Prince)

    Good write-up Adam, and I hate Manu (bcuz I’m not a Spurs fan).

  • LB

    The best part of Manu’s game is that he just figures out a way to win. Even when his shot isnt falling, Manu will come up with a key steal, or a crucial rebound that leads his team to a W. Definitely one of my favorite players of the past decade with his competiveness and his creative, unorthodox approach to the game (Manu-step, anyone?)

  • LB

    But the young guns in San Antonio are for sure going to have to step up for the Spurs to make any noise in the playoffs this year. Even if Carmelo Anthony gets traded out, the West is still hella deep. You can pretty much pencil in the Lakers at the top spot, and possibly Dallas or Oklahoma City (if they can manage expectations, which young teams struggle to do. It’s a lot easier to be the hunter than the hunted as they say) at the 2 spot. But after that it’s a crap shoot. Phoenix, Portland, Denver (which will still be a pretty talented team even if they trade Melo), Utah, a healthy Houston and possibly even the Kings and the Clippers (two young but very talented squads) are all vying for a playoff spot. San Antonio is just one of those teams that MUST have everything fall into place because they just dont have the depth or the star power that teams like the Lakers have.

  • Blackphantom

    I actually like Ginobli….and im a die-hard Laker fan. That’s just how appealing his hustle is to me

  • Dagger

    Suffice to say that if Manu hadn’t battled injuries recently he would have been much higher than 31.

  • http://slamonline.com Philly

    Roy is better then JJ

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    @Groves, my guess is Captain Jack isn’t on that list and Tyreke is considered a shooting guard.

  • ohsnapkid

    @Caboose, there are still 9 point guards remaining… seems probable that Reke would be classified as one.

    shooting guards that should be left: Iggy, Jack, JJ, Roy, Wade, Kobe.

    small forwards: Pierce, Granger, Anthony, Durant, James.

  • Orlando Woolridge

    Really? E. Gordon is better than Manu? I’m not sold on that dude yet. Good scorer, but better player? Naw.

  • JTaylor21

    Talk about someone being HIGHLY overrated well this is him right here. I still can’t believe that people FOOLISHLY used to think that dude was even in the same galaxy as Kobe, CHILD PLEASE kobe would run laps around dude like Usain would around the entire supreme court judges.

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    seems slam is anticipating some slowdown for manu this year. either from a few injuries or aging. hopefully neither happens this year, because his game is beautiful to watch.

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    regarding eric gordon, i dont think his game really had a chance to shine in the dunleavy system. with vinny at the helm, i think we’ll get to see that clipper offense open up a lot more. they have the offensive talent to run teams

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    JTaylor, if you think Manu´s overated you just confirm what we all suspect, you dont know sh1t bout ball…@Groves, JoeJohnson ahead of BRoy, Nah ha, not really..few years back that discussion could be had, today no more. IF ERIC GORDON IS ON THIS LIST IN FRONT OF ALL THIS DUDES ITS OVA FOR THE SLAM TOP 50 REPUTATION. hes good, but hes like nº45 or smthing.

  • Joe

    Ginobili is a future HOF’er……has to be, look at his international accomplishments, and his NBA accomplishments

  • Overtime

    Ginobili is an incredibly good basketball player. All-out hustle but with great skills aswell. If u like basketball, you absolutely have to appreciate his game. He can do it all, why? because he makes the effort to

  • JTaylor21

    Ginobli is NOT, I repeat NOT a HOF, no Fing way. What has dude done to deserve a HOF nod, he has been the 3rd best player on the spurs for years now and hasn’t been consistently good for an extended period of time. He’s nothing but an overrated euro that has benefited from playing next to a TOP-3 PFs of all-time, one of the best PGs of this era and one of the best coaches of all-time.

  • Ronald

    Overrated is a strong word. He was arguable a top-3 SG for a good few years. But, there’s a lot of argument against him when discussing the greats. But the whole he flops too much argument seems contrived when you see players like D-Fish.

  • tavoris

    JTaylor21-Manu is NOT overrated. We had this discussion before.
    If you give him 35-36 minutes a game, his numbers would be HOF worthy. Unluckily for the superficial fam, Pop is the best in the biz at managing his player’s minutes.
    Bottom line, Manu is better than Ray, better than Roy, better than JJ, better than Vince, better than T-Mac(and all the young ones that haven’t earned a mention yet)…when he’s healthy. At his best, Only Kobe has proven to be more dangerous.
    Oh, and Manu was the best player on the Spurs last season too.

  • JTaylor21

    Tavoris, you don’t lost your DAMN mind, did you just say that Manure’s better than BRoy, TMac (are you talking prime or present), and even JJ OH HELLS NO. I don’t care whether dude was hurt or had 3 legs, he was NEVER better than those guys and at this very moment is not better than BRoy and JJ. BRoy has been the main guy on a playoff team for years while Manu has never had to carry a team.

  • tavoris

    JTaylor-thanks for the improper word usage. My mind is intact.
    And Manu is still better than u think, which actually makes him UNDERRATED.

  • JTaylor21

    Tavoris, regardless of how good you think Manure is, do you still stand by your stance that he’s better than BRoy, JJ, and a (Prime)TMac? That’s the real question that NEEDS to be answered.

  • Loaf

    JT – i hate you

  • Andreas

    I’m very interested to know who are the top 30, I’ve the feeling many people will laugh, many others will break their monitors and quite a bunch will join a lynch mob to take care of this article writer. Just a feeling

  • Valerio

    JT T-Mac was an incredible player, but a loser…..Ginobili is a winner, that’s the difference.
    BRoy and JJ cant simply compete with Manu.
    That’s easy to understand if you know how Ginobili play the game

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon



  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    @Valerio: today Roy´s better than Manu, thats not even debatable..but thats due to age..Roy should aim to acomplish what Manu did as a ball player, which is A LOT.

  • Franko

    Manu GINOBILI is one of the best basketball players in history. NOT the best. OK? he is one of the best.
    Mj Kareem Magic bird, pistol pete, Drj … … and MANU.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    jtaylor is a moron, that is all

  • http://slamonline.com Kieran

    Co sign Tarzan. The kid sounds about 12 years old.

  • JTaylor21

    Tarzan, great job of talking out your a** instead of giving a credible response. So you agree with all the people that say Manure’s an all-time great, is that what you’re saying? SH*T someone even said that he’s better than BRoy, JJ and a Prime T-Mac, who in their right mind would think that.

  • Groves

    I forgot about iggy….

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Hey JTaylor, name one other active player who has a championship ring, olympic gold, and euroleague title. No? I didn’t think so. Watch the dude play, Manu in his prime would smoke Roy and Johnson today. Get your facts straight, by the way, before blowing chunks out of your a**, Manu is from Argentina which is not Europe.

  • basketblogger

    ginobili!!! (charles barkley voice)

  • Valerio

    @TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon: I said that BRoy & JJ can’t compete with Ginobili because they will never win as much as he did, they will never put as much heart in the game as he does…..
    Roy will never win as much as Ginobili.

    And the prime T-Mac can’t compete with the Prime Ginobili because T-Mac doesnt have the winner mentality, the mental streght that Ginobili has.
    When Manu leaves the bench he change the game like a few players can do….and you know that you can always count on him.

    I’m sorry if my english suck, anyway I hope u understand what I’m trying to say.

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    Manu should be a HOF’er. If people consider Rodman should be one, there’s no way Manu isn’t. Manu is a winner in everywhere. Leader or one of the leaders. If someone believes he’s not he should stop posting.

  • RoG23

    Today i would only take Kobe or Wade before Ginobili. He should, arguably, have 1 Finals MVP. Those SA championship teams are what basketball is all about.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Co-sign Lisbon. Manu is not a Euro. LOL

  • Overtime

    To say Ginobili isn’t HOF bound is ridicolous JTaylor.
    But what really is funny is how your argument for why Manu shouldnt be in the HOF only concerns what he’s done in the NBA. You dont mention any of the out-of-NBA stuff he’s accomplished, such as schneezy listed earlier.
    And its not like he hasnt done much in the NBA anyways.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    That kid really stfu didnt he?

  • NicktheQuick

    We all know JTaylor has something personal against Manu. He just cannot get himself to admit that dude is really good and at one time was the second best shooting guard behind Kobe. None of the guys JJ/Tmac/Broy can match what he does on both ends in their prime and none of them have won at all levels like he has. You can use his minutes or his role with Spurs against him but you gotta admit the man plays his a$$ off, doesn’t just say it cliche’ like most players do.

  • http://gregoden.com roybot

    JTaylor Manu came to the NBA at 25 and has accomplished so much more than TMAC has ever accomplished. AND WHATS THAT???? TMAC came to the NBa as a teenager fresh out of high school??? That means he has spent 12 years in the NBA while Manu has only spent 8. Now dont get me wrong, Tmac was great in his prime but you cant measure Manu’s intangibles which are off the charts. Im a Blazers Fan 4 Life and i can only hope that B.Roy will be able to achieve at least half of what Manu has done, not only in the NBA, but in the WORLD, because the NBA isnt the end all be all of basketball like it or not, and this is coming from a full-born American.

  • AI TO MIAMI!!!

    yea i like this dude betta than the otha international players. surely deserves anotha ring. shud be in the top15

  • Anthony

    If you’re not convinced he’s not in the discussion for the HOF, watch the ’05 Finals.

    And dude averaged 20, 5.8 and 4.2 in ONLY (!!!) 33min of action during the ’05 playoffs. That’s just .. wow.

    Give him 40/45min and who knows what he could have produce. At that time he was arguably the 2nd best SG behind Kobe.

  • Anthony

    And JTaylor, in the last ten years, only Kobe and Wade prove they were better than Ginobili. T-Mac in his prime was probably better, his numbers speak for himself but he never past the 1st round. If you want talks about stats please take a look.
    Manu 20, 5.8, 4.2 in 33min: 0.6pts/min, 0.175rbd/min and 0.127ast/min.
    T-Mac (from ’05 playoffs) 30, 7.4, 6.7 in 43min: 0,7pts/min, 0.172rbd/min and 0.155ast/min.

    Conclusion: That’s 2 impressive stats line and Manu wasn’t even the Spurs 1st option. Put Manu in the same position as T-Mac and im pretty sure he’s giving you 30,6,5.

    Now if you’re taking everything into consideration (3 NBA titles, Olympics gold medal, 6th man award, the way he plays the game ect…) and still think he’s not HOF material, then you really dont know shit about this game.

  • abaci

    If you were to just take what Manu did in the nba, would he make the HOF?

  • Groves

    JTaylor just stopped when he realised how much of an idiot he is

  • Andreas

    I think it can be explained like this: if you want to do some ridiculous list about overhyped players, then you can put Gino in the 10, 20, 30, 40 or 1000 spot, it doesn’t matter. Now, if you want to actually win games, then Gino is a Top 10 and probably a Top 5 player. Simple as that. The guy ended in #8 or #9 spot for MVP last year, won everything any player in the world could dream to win yet for Slum Online even Iguodala is better!!! Give me a break, the day the Iguodalas and Josh Smiths of the world win something other than off season contests this list will make sense. Until then, this is a joke

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  • correction

    I hace the strong feeling that if Ginobili played in LA/Boston he would be top 10 every season.

    Underated like hell

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  • David

    for black ppl to accept manu as #1 he need a total transformation like machael jackson and get all black skin so he gets the spot that he deserve for all his acoplishments. #1