Manu Ginobili 66 games in

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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.

GamesPointsField Goal %3-Point Field Goal %Free Throw %ReboundsAssistsStealsTurnovers
6617.942.8%34.5%86.5%3.85.01.62.3
8017.443.3%34.9%87.1%3.74.91.52.2

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.

  • GMT

    With our current roster, Gino is the only Big 3 that we can afford to rest, which is a problem.

  • The Heretic

    Spurs need to sign an active, defensive-minded bigman to replace McDyess and take care of business when Duncan sits. Forget shooting, ball-handling, playmaking, etc., etc. Duncan needs more help than ever in this condensed season. 

  • Drew

    I would love for the Spurs to get Luc bah a moute from the Bucks, reminds me of Bowen which we have desperately needed

  • NYC

    “Manu Ginobili is the focal point of the offense for the Spurs now. He’s the main distributor and playmaker.”
    I disagree with this statement. The Spurs have two main focal points: Parker and Ginobili. If I had to pick one over the other as THE main focal point, it would be Parker. 

    Looking at last (regular) season’s stats, provided by espn (http://espn.go.com/nba/team/stats/_/name/sa/seasontype/2/san-antonio-spurs), the numbers show that Parker averaged more minutes, more assists, and more points per game than any other Spur. Here’s the breakdown for the top three in each category:

    Minutes – Parker 32.4, Jefferson 30.4, Ginobili 30.3
    Assists – Parker 6.6, Ginobili 4.9, Duncan 2.7
    Points – Parker 17.5, Ginobili 17.4, Duncan 13.4

    My own subjective watching of the games tells me that Parker had the ball in his hands more (he is the point guard, after all, and brings the ball up the court), called and initiated more plays, and was on the court more often.

    If you look at the numbers for the six (measly) playoff games, then Ginobili takes over as the point leader, but the rest of the picture stays the same.

    I’m gonna catch a lot of flak from the anti-Parkerites for this, so let me just say this preemptively. Regardless of what you may wish to be true, who your preference may be, the fact of the matter is that Parker and Ginobili are dual focal points around which this team revolves. They are two headlights on the same car, with Parker being younger and burning just a tad brighter. 

  • grego

    66 games put him at less risk for injury and wear and tear in some ways. Yes, the games will be stacked together more, but if Pop sits him for a few games, it still would benefit him and Duncan in the long run. Hopefully, this also forces Pop’s hand in making him sit Manu more in favor of some of the younger talent. At the very least, Manu should be able to focus less on playing the 3 position and play only the 1/2 positions, if some of the young talent pans out. JA showed potential pre-injury, so that’s a good start. 

  • grego

    Parker is important, but Manu was PG part 2 since George Hill was just pretending to play the PG position. Both are vital to the team’s offense. Hopefully the new youth of the team will allow Manu to play less minutes at the 2 and no minutes at the 3, especially since he’ll likely have to play the 1 position a decent amount this season. 

  • grego

    You can’t really rest any of them. If Parker goes out, someone needs to play PG. Manu has taken up those back up duties a big chunk of time. Even though Duncan is far from his prime, no one can really do what he does. Hopefully some of the new guys can pick up the slack and allow for them to sit more. 

  • Tim in Surrey

    Why would Milwaukee give him up, when they value defense so much?

  • Timmay

    Its important for the Spurs to start the season strong as they did last year so they have no problems making a good playoff spot despite resting Manu and Tim on several occasions later in the season …

  • titletown99030507d

    And the way he played in France during the lock out this dude is ready to work. I see Parker having a big year this season.

  • titletown99030507d

    We really just need a good big, someone to take Blair’s or Bonner’s place. Take your pick who goes.

  • DorieStreet

    I agree with putting the youngsters–amend that- everyone in uniform (when circumstances allow) on the floor come tipoff Dec. 26th/27th/28th {When will the rest of the schedule be released?}.

    If the Spurs wish to go far in the playoffs, we need to see who currently on the roster can step up and fill vital roles–both holdovers and newcomers. Then when the trade deadline approaches, there is a more informed base on what is needed and who should be dealt to acquire that need.

  • titletown99030507d

    Ryan Richards Injured again!
    Just searched the web and finally found something on Ryan Richards. He’s injured again! Hard to translate that site but they didn’t say what he injured only that he was out injured. I notice the box scores on the Lugano Tigers for the recent games and he wasn’t even listed. Crap! He’s been out since Nov. 26 2011 recently and they are due to play again on Dec 2nd tomorrow. Hope his name is on the box score after tomorrow.

  • titletown99030507d

    With the Hornets FO backs against the wall and they deal CP3 in fear of getting nothing for him. Would this deal work for us and the Hornets? Would it net us the extra 3 mil cap space recovered from RJ’s trade giving us a total of 6-8 mil of cap space which includes the MLE for this season?

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=7hyv4g4

  • titletown99030507d
  • Drew

    He’s a free agent I believe

  • Tim in Surrey

    He’s a restricted free agent, so we would have to outbid Milwaukee. That won’t happen because we’re over the cap.

  • Tim in Surrey

    You want to give up Jefferson and Blair for Ariza? Have you seen him play lately?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Not lately. I don’t think anybody has?