Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 at 6:27 pm  |  48 responses

Top 50: Manu Ginobili, no. 28

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Maurice Bobb / @ReeseReport

After watching him bend, contort, lean, writhe, slash, juke and Euro step his way to the basket like a whirling dervish for the deuce for lo these many years, I’m convinced: Manu Ginobili is some kind of magician.

How else could he knife through two, three and sometimes four defenders for that lefty tomahawk dunk? Or shake and bake his way past defenders for that patented step back J? Or cradle a Spalding around his back like a rock-a-bye-baby lullaby for another one of his WTF shots that kiss the glass with the kind of expert English reserved for pool hall hustlers? And who could forget the way he snatched a bat down midflight with his bare hands during a game?

Forget that he’s No. 28 on our list this year, Manu is friggin’ Houdini.

The icing on the cake was the corner jumper he nailed while falling out of bounds to stave off elimination in Game 5 against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs. As the shot left his curled fingertips, it’s not hard to imagine him mouthing the word “Voila!” as the ball tinkled the twine to save the San Antonio Spurs’ playoff hopes.

And the crazy part? We’re immune to it all. We’re immune to his startling body control and Darwinian exploits into the lane. We’re spoiled by the Bahia Blanca, Argentina native’s feats of strength (Festivus for the rest of us!). We don’t flinch at the news that he plays full throttle despite a small fracture in his right arm. He’s an international wunderkind with the rock? Meh. He can beat you from anywhere on the floor? Yawn. We’ve watched the former Italian League MVP pull so many rabbits out of his hat that it only elicits a restrained Kanye shrug from fans when he goes all abracadabra on defenders.

For years, Ginobili has been tagged as underrated—which raises hackles for those who consider him overrated, but how can a player who has a Euro league title, an Italian league title, three NBA championship rings, an Olympic Gold medal, a Sixth Man of the Year Award and three nods as an NBA All Star be underrated? Truth be told, it’s just a case of perception. We see what we want to see.

We rely on Kobe, LeBron, Wade and Durant for our nightly “oohs” and “ahhs” on ESPN’s highlight reel, but the focus is seldom on the crafty two guard who slipped to the 57th pick in the 1999 draft. Ginobili drafted after the likes of Trajan Langdon, Frederick Weis and Jonathan Bender? Bet no one saw that blowing up in their face. And although he’s been reliable as HBO’s original programming with career averages of 15.3 ppg, 3.9 apg and 4 rpg, Ginobili continues to dwell in the shadows of the swiftness that is Tony Parker and, of course, the greatness that is Tim Duncan.

Obi Wan Ginobili’s numbers won’t raise any eyebrows either, but they have steadily increased for the last three years: 15.5 (’08), 16.5 (’09) and 17.4 ppg (’10). And at 4.9 dimes per contest the last two seasons, he’s almost as much of a distributor of the ball as the Frenchman.

With The Big Fundamental on the steady decline, Ginobili will have to steady the ship and serve as Coach Gregg Popovich’s key scoring option (he was the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs at 20.6 ppg) if the Spurs are to recover from being ousted in the first round last year. All he has to do is stay healthy, which is easier said than done considering his nagging injuries and penchant for taking no play off. Additionally, his ability to get into the teeth of the defense and space the floor will open up opportunities for burgeoning post man Dejuan Blair, sharpshooter Gary Neal and even Richard Jefferson, should he manage to find his long lost game during the lockout.

The Spurs have been consistently good this past decade, but let’s face it, this year, they’ll only go as far as Ginobili takes them. And if you think Manu doesn’t have enough tricks left up his sleeve to push San Antonio into the 2012 playoffs, get ready, cuz you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Luol Deng Bulls SF 8
49 Andrew Bogut Bucks C 7
48 Ray Allen Celtics SG 9
47 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
46 David West Hornets PF 15
45 Kevin Martin Rockets SG 8
44 Andrew Bynum Lakers C 5
43 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 11
42 Lamar Odom Lakers PF 14
41 Gerald Wallace Blazers SF 7
40 Brook Lopez Nets C 4
39 Joakim Noah Bulls C 3
38 Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 13
37 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 12
36 Eric Gordon Clippers SG 7
35 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10
34 Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 6
33 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 11
32 Al Horford Hawks C 2
31 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 9
30 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 10
29 Josh Smith Hawks PF 9
28 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 5

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://Slamonline.coM nbk

    Good work MB

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    It’s so true, though.
    Manu will make spectacular play after spectacular play and most of us just go “meh”.
    But I’ve been a big fan of dude for years.
    Among SG’s this is a good spot for him.

  • http://slamonline Aaron

    I like this one. Ginobili and Parker should be ranked higher than duncan because they can carry the team without him. Ginobili is clutch, and he can come off the bench and bring energy. He is also crafty, notice how he is able to draw fouls and make something out of nothing.

  • ctkennedy

    Shouldnt be higher than TonyParker or Duncan …..Manu is important to them winnin no question …but he couldnt carry a team for 82games …playin 36-38mins bringin it on both ends of the court …like other elite sgs that people think he is

  • C Da Tyrant

    Ginobliiiiiiiiiii!!!!! (Barkley voice)

  • http://Slamonline.coM nbk

    He just played 30MPG for 80 games Kennedy. Noone on the list so far can carry a team by themself.

  • http://slamonline Aaron

    @ctkennedy- Most of the other “elite” sgs only play one end of the floor. Ginobili rarely takes plays off, thats why he is good playing 28-32 mins a game. He is just as effective.

  • ctkennedy

    Kobe Wade n Joe Johnson play both ends of the court …Monta Ellis,Eric Gordon,Manu,n Tyreke Evans r in the next tier…i would take Manu at the top of that tier cuz he is a ELITE closer n i trust him to get stops over the other 3 …i just dont think Manu would do much more n a bigger role

  • http://Slamonline.coM nbk

    Manu is a much better defender then Monta and Reke. Joe Johnson is a better player.

  • ctkennedy

    @nbk no argument outta me on that

  • http://slamonline Aaron

    Honestly… as much as I like manu’s game… I would take james harden. James harden over Monta and Reke too. Harden plays with more control. He killed in the playoffs as the primary ball handler, and I think the Thunder are going to run their offence more through him next season.

  • ctkennedy

    @Aaron James Harden gon have to play a bigger role first before i can even consider takin him over Monta n Tyreke
    but he got the next Manu written all over him …which if Westbrook n Durant can get they situation together …he could get some titles out of it

  • ElVis

    just I want to mention the “manutime”: about a time of a play (consecutive plays) were Ginobili frecuently make three o four plays that change the pace of the game … a steal, a three, one asist or a dunk. If you don´t see pay attention. Is always there.

  • http://Slamonline.coM nbk

    Tyreke Evans ans Monta Ellis are proven to be consistently productive when healthy. James Harden cant even consistently stay on the court. He gonna be good but damn, have some patience.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Cosign nbk. Honestly though, Harden and Manu have very similar games. Both can shoot the 3, prefer to be the primary playmaker, excellent first step, creativity around the rim, not otherworldly athletic but deceptively quick. That said, I could put Manu a bit higher but nothing wrong with this.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Is James Harden really going to be on this list?

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Teddy: Joe, Monta, Kobe, Wade. Nope, he’s not gonna make it.


    here goes slam with its list of Careerachievements instead of the now


    Ellis Johnson Bryant and Wade are the remaining SG. Tyreke might cut it as a 1

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Mub: Reke, Nash, Rondo, Wall, Westbrook, Deron, Rose, Paul. Unless Chauncey is higher than him somehow, I think Tyreke is on it.


    how about the PF caboose
    I was wondering if the remaining 8 PF looks like this : 1.nowitzki 2.griffin 3.randolph 4.bosh 5.amare 6.gasol 7.LA 8.Lee

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    I think you forgot Kevin Love on that one. For those left I’d go (reverse order): Love, Bosh, Gasol, Aldridge, Griffin, Randolph, Dirk.


    and amare so Lee doesn’t make it. See that’s what wrong with slam. Put here guys like Duncan is crazy.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Sorry yeah, Amare goes in between Dirk and Randolph for me. I still would take Duncan over Lee. But that argument has sailed.

  • Double J

    umm did somebody really say the thunder were gonna run their offense thru harden?

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    manu is probably a top 5 sg in the league…

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    F*ck that.
    Manu’s still the now.

  • Armando

    Good spot for Manu, I’d take him over Ellis though.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Max

    PF: Dirk, Z-Bo, LA, Griffin, Amaré, KLove, Gasol, Bosh

  • Stroshow

    Seems like theres way too many SFs left. Lebron, Durant, Melo and Pierce but Granger and Gay this high?

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • http://slamonline.com Maurice Bobb

    @nbk Thanks!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Love Manu, but he’s one of the worst floppers in the league.

  • Pindajung

    So….. where will McGee and up on the list?

  • http://www.slamonline.com UNFROZEN CAVEMAN LAWYER


  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Still a flopper…didn’t say he wasn’t a winner though.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Obi Wan Ginobili. I like that!

  • Luiyo

    Emmanuel Ginobili! He was robbed at the 2007 finals of the MVP…

  • MaxIsNative

    Manu is good.

  • http://www.jcolemusic.com Showtime

    Good spot for manu. again people u have take in consider this list is a projection of production for 2011-2012 season. So their 4 Monta will get that drose luv from last year & be the 3rd best sg & also be top 20.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Good stuff again, Maurice!

  • http://slamonline.com Maurice Bobb

    Thanks Teddy-the-Bear!

  • http://www.acb.com A l a n

    Grande Manu!!!

  • Rainman

    Gimme Manu in the top 20, or top 15…

  • http://tempdog1 Tempest

    Dope write up. Obi Wan Ginobli!! Love that

  • Say

    Great!! But I bet he’s gonna be even better next year besides his age ;)
    And he was a 2 times all star, not 3!

  • http://slamonline 3kings

    ginobli is a good sg, but i wouldnt take him over ellis. just not enough scoring and explosiveness. then again hes a better defender

  • Gon20

    Manu Ginobili is a future Hall of Famer. Ellis, Johnson, Tyreke and many others that are considered better than him, aren’t.