No team’s system is more effective or relentless than the San Antonio Spurs’. In the past two seasons alone, Gregg Popovich and company have turned cast-offs Danny Green, Boris Diaw, and Patty Mills into extremely valuable, role-playing cogs that helped them to two consecutive Finals appearances and the 2014 NBA championship. More than any other organization in the league, the Spurs consistently push their players to the peak of their ability. But make no mistake – San Antonio needs its stars to play like stars to be its best. To that end, the Spurs will be pleased to know that 37 year-old Manu Ginobili says he’s fully healthy for the first time in years. But the Argentinian legend also warns that he’s “way behind” in terms of on-court comfort.
“Way behind basketball-wise,” said Ginobili of his current state. “I am very insecure with the ball, but I am pain free.”
“That hasn’t happened in a long time, so I’m happy about that,” continued Ginobili. “Sometimes I get a little impatient. I am so far behind, and I want to be useful and help the team out.”
This isn’t perfect news, obviously, but is far better than the alternative – if Ginobili were playing well but felt nicked-up.
When Manu hasn’t been effective over the past several seasons, it’s been due to labors from lingering injuries. Some of that is inevitable because of age and general wear-and-tear, but that Ginobili isn’t currently suffering from nagging maladies is certainly encouraging, especially considering recovery from a stress fracture kept him from World Cup play this summer. If history is any indication, he’ll discover the timing and comfort necessary to play well soon enough. And with Kawhi Leonard ailing, Manu will get every opportunity to do so, too.
Could the Spurs manage without him? During the regular season, of course. San Antonio went 9-5 when he sat last season, after all. But to repeat as champions for the first time in five tries, Ginobili’s team will need him to play well. Look no further than the difference between the 2013 and 2014 Finals as evidence to support that assertion.
A healthy Manu? Great. A struggling Manu? Not ideal. But the likelihood that he’ll improve in time given that health? Very encouraging.
(H/T Eye On Basketball)
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