Manu Ginobili 66 games in
Ever since the threat of a lockout eased into reality, there were rumblings that a shortened season would do the Spurs well. They won their first title in 1999 in the midst of a 50 game season, why couldn’t they do it again? Varner and I tempered expectations that the Spurs would emulate the same success this year as best we could, the main reason being the age of the core (Tim Duncan) in 2011 compared to 1999.
With the news that the lockout is on its way out, and that a 66 game season starting on Christmas is in the works, I got to thinking. Would a 66 game season be just right for the Spurs, namely for one Manu Ginobili, the catalyst for the Spurs offense and team’s best player last season? Did his numbers suffer after the first 66 games of the season?
To sum things up, no. I went to Basketball-Reference.com and got my Google Spreadsheet skills sharp, taking Ginobili’s basic box score averages through 66 games last season and comparing them to his full season averages. One thing to mention is that there is little difference, in terms of averages, from a 66 game season to an 82 game one (or 80 in the case of Ginobili last season). In the way each game has a huge effect on averages early in the season, they have very little effect on averages later in the campaign.
|Games||Points||Field Goal %||3-Point Field Goal %||Free Throw %||Rebounds||Assists||Steals||Turnovers|
Looking at the numbers, you see that the averages are all up through 66 games compared to 80, but the percentages are lower. What this alludes to is that Ginobili’s usage rate was higher through 66 games, then tailed off later in the season. With his lower usage, his efficiency went up.
How can we project this toward the upcoming season? Well, we can’t, really. Manu Ginobili is the focal point of the offense for the Spurs now. He’s the main distributor and playmaker. With that, it’s reasonable to expect similar averages to last season. But he’s also 34 years old now and the as of yet unreleased schedule is sure to feature several back-to-backs and at least one back-to-back-to-back.
Ginobili will sit out more games this season, for no other reason than rest, then he ever has. Coach Pop may become as big a micromanager of Ginobili’s minutes this season as he is of Tim Duncan’s. I had hoped that Ginobili’s numbers were stellar through 66 games and then dropped significantly after the point, giving hope to the theory that a shortened season would fit Manu’s wheelhouse. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
To think that Ginobili will fare better with a shortened season, at least when it comes to filling up a box score, is a reach. If anything, the prospect of sitting out more games during the season may leave him primed for the postseason, which is the most anyone can hope for.