The San Antonio Spurs two-time All-Star Manu Ginobili is out indefinitely after breaking his hand against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. This spells disaster for the team that finished with the best record in the Western Conference last season.
The Duncan-Era, which has carried the Spurs to four-NBA Championships, is pretty much over since 15-year veteran Tim Duncan is in the twilight of his career. As the superstar ages, Ginobili and point guard Tony Parker have been labeled the new era in San Antonio for the last two seasons.
It’s kind of hard to turn to a run and gun style of play instead of feeding it to the big man when arguably the best guard on the team can’t play.
Ginobili leads the Spurs in scoring at 17.4 points a game. The next player behind him is forward DeJuan Blair at 14.2. Not only did the Spurs lose their top scorer, but Ginobili also leads the team in shooting percentage from the field, 59%, and the three-point line, 52%. He is tied with Parker and rookie Kawhi Leonard with 1.20 steals per game and is only behind Parker and back up point guard T.J. Ford with three assists per game.
San Antonio is definitely in trouble.
In the USA Today story, Parker says someone is going to have to step up because Ginobili means a lot to the team. He is right, but I don’t know who they have to step up. Duncan can’t do it, Blair is probably maxing out his offensive production with 14 ppg and Richard Jefferson doesn’t have much left in his legs either. Center Tiago Splitter should be able to give the team a bigger lift than his current seven points per game, but he has been a huge disappointment.
The only players who could step up in my mind are second-year player James Anderson and Leonard. Leonard knows how to put points on the board and can do it by taking it to the basket and shooting the long ball. However, he is only playing 18 minutes a game and I doubt Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is going to start the rookie ahead of Jefferson.
Anderson will probably get the start for Ginobili. At this point he is averaging 7.2 ppg, but he does have the long ball capability to put up more. The Spurs are going to need him to hit a lot of threes if they want to have a winning record.
There is always a chance of the Spurs still having a good season because every person on the roster is an NBA caliber player. Maybe, I’m wrong about Duncan, Blair, Splitter or the Leonard situation.
It’s just hard to believe San Antonio will be a quality Western Conference team without their best player. Especially since the west has seven or eight high quality teams.