Who’s Better: Jason Terry or Manu Ginobili?

12.08.09 9 years ago 71 Comments

We argue. You decide.

JASON TERRY (by Gerald Narciso)
For the last three or so seasons, Jason Terry and Manu Ginobili have been arguably the best and most talented bench players in the league. Terry was last season’s Sixth Man of the Year winner, while Manu copped the award in 2008.

The similarities don’t end there. They’re both 32-year-old shooting guards with resembling attributes on the court. Each can score the ball in a variety of ways: they can get to the basket, hit the long ball, create their own shot and get to the line. No doubt about it, debating who’s better between Terry and Ginobili is a close call. If we’re talking about who’s had a better career or who was better four years ago, I can see how you can make a great case for Manu. But if we’re talking about who’s better right now, I would have to pick the Jet.

Once again, Terry is in the running for Sixth Man of the Year. This season, the 6-2 guard is averaging 17.8 ppg, 3.5 apg and 1.4 spg. He is the second-leading scorer on a Mavericks squad that is currently fourth place in the Western Conference with a 14-7 record. Not only is Terry scoring the ball better than Ginobili, but he’s also shooting the ball at a better percentage. JT is also getting more steals and turning the ball over less.

The Jet has proven to be more durable in the past few seasons. Manu missed 38 games last year and has been banged up already this season. In fact, Ginobili has never played an entire 82-game season in his career. Terry, on the other hand, has only missed a total of 19 games in his 12-year career.

Ginobili has always been a great clutch performer, but this season his confidence has been down. He has been a non-factor down the stretch in recent Spurs games and has been reluctant to shoot. Manu even admitted to the media a few days ago that he is thinking too much when he is out on the court. Just like the Spurs this season, Manu has not lived up to expectations on both sides of the ball.

Terry has been a good second option for the Mavs in crunch time. In a recent win over the Kings, he scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and last week he hit a 17-footer in the final seconds to down the Sixers. Terry is also a better athlete than Ginobili. They don’t call him the Jet for nothing — he is one of the quickest guards (especially in the open court) and can play above the rim despite being just 6-2. Like the rest of the Mavs, Terry has been better and more consistent on defense this year. He is a better on-the-ball defender than Ginobili.

MANU GINOBILI (by Jack Jensen)
Since his move to the second unit during the ’07-08 season, you could say that no one in the NBA has been a stronger sixth man than Jason Terry. That is, besides a healthy Manu Ginobili. (And maybe J.R. Smith. Or is it back to Earl?)

Sadly, that’s the key word: healthy.

Both Terry and Ginobili are 32 years old, so nix the old-age angle; the biggest thing with Ginobili has always been his durability. When healthy, Manu can slash, shoot and flop his way to 30 points on any given night. And he can affect the outcome of a game in so many more ways than just scoring. He can handle the ball like a point guard and hand out 6-7 assists when he’s in playmaker mode. He is great at drawing fouls, playing the passing lanes and defending on the ball. Terry, on the other hand, is a volume scorer and the majority of his strength lies on the offensive end.

In 13 games so far this season, Ginobili is averaging his lowest numbers across the board since his sophomore NBA season in 2004, putting up 12.7 points, 3.6 dimes and 2.5 boards a game. A mid-November groin strain has had a lot to do with his recent lack of production, but when healthy we’ve seen glimpses of the “old” Manu: like when he dropped 36 points and eight dimes on the Raptors on Nov. 9, a game the Spurs won without Tim Duncan and Tony Parker in the lineup. That wasn’t a fluke. Over the past couple years Manu been known to drop 30-40 points when one or both of his All-Star teammates happen to be sidelined.

But where Ginobili thrives best is in the postseason.

You don’t have to like the guy, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that he gets it done in the clutch. He’s a proven winner, helping the Spurs to three championships since his arrival. (A lot of people felt he should have been MVP of the ’05 Finals.) Over the last four postseasons he’s played, which includes two ‘chips, Ginobili has averaged 18.4 points and 3.7 assists. In that same time, Terry has averaged 16.5 points and 3.5 assists a game. Comparable numbers, but the difference is that Dallas is lacking is in the trophy column.

Maybe Ginobili has been surrounded by a more talented core in San Antonio, and maybe he has been the beneficiary of a few hundred favorable calls in his career. But the Spurs do not win championships in ’05 and ’07 without Ginobili. He is the clichéd “X-factor” that gives San Antonio the spark it needs to win big games. Both Parker and Duncan are going to bring it every night, but without a healthy and effective Ginobili, the team does not perform to expectations. This has never been more evident than the Spurs struggles last season, their unprecedented (in the Duncan era) first-round playoff exit, and their .500 start this season.

Who do you think is better?


Follow Gerald Narciso on Twitter: @Gerald_Narciso
Follow Jack Jensen on Twitter: @jensenjack
Follow DIME on Twitter: @DIMEMag

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