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“Do You Think I’m Better Than Manu Ginobili?”

By Jeff Koch on February 24, 2011.

Oklahoma City 105, San Antonio 109  //  47-10  //  1st in the West

No, Gary, you’re not. But keep playing games like this, and keep learning tricks from Manu, and someday you may be.

D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images

Gary Neal might be my new favorite Spur. And he’s getting a lot of publicity of late. Jeff McDonald did a wonderful piece on Gary Neal over at Gary Neal was featured on Outside the Lines on ESPN last Sunday morning. His story is an amazing one, for sure. But it’s his game that has me all gooey-eyed. He started the season as a question mark. He quickly answered that question with the phrase “spot up 3-point shooter”. Easy enough. The Spurs always need those players.

But that wasn’t nearly the entire story. As the season progressed, those of us that watch him closely started to realize many different aspects to his game. He plays tenacious D, and isn’t afraid to put his body in harm’s way to take a charge, grab a board, or get a stop. On offense, he has a deadly mid-range game, pull-up jumper, and even a reliable teardrop on drives to the rim.

All of this was on display in the win over Oklahoma City Wednesday night. But something new showed up, also: court vision. Not quite Ginobili-esque, but very good nonetheless. On at least 3 drives to the basket, instead of taking a shot, he made his move and with nifty passing found a wide open big man under the basket for an easy score. None of these were run of the mill plays; they all required excellent timing, vision, and ball skills. All 3 were beautiful and eye-opening. Has Neal been learning from the master himself, Ginobili?

We all thought we had found another reliable 3-point shooter to plug into our system; turns out, we had found a whole lot more. Come playoff time, the difference in what we thought Neal was and what he actually is might be the difference between a win and a loss, between advancing and going home.

D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images

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  1. Ignazio May 1, 2012

    My team would be: Hill, Iggy, RJ, Duncan, Dalembert. How would you get the 25 million or so for Iggy and Dalembert? The Spurs would need 25 million dollars to trade back to Philly. Even if they somehow got some exception to the NBA Salary cap rules I don’t see how that team wins 50 games. Dalembert isn’t that good of a defender (see 76ers games) and there is certainly not enough outside shooting for that team. Plus the mix of players wouldn’t work at all. You have full-court fast paced wings in Jefferson and Iggy. You have slow half-court bigs in Duncan and Dalembert. Plus this starting five would make Duncan the number one option on offense on every possession. I don’t think at this point in his career he’s up to carrying an offense for 100+ games. Plus, as mentioned, there would be a lot less space for him to operate then there is now with since Iggy and Dalembert can’t shoot, and Jefferson is certainly no Reggie Miller (or Bruce Bowen) .As for trading Parker for Jefferson. The Wolves would never do that. They have Sessions, Flynn, and Rubio overseas and now you really think they would take Parker? Only if they hired Don Nelson would they have any use for four point guards. (That would be a fun lineup though: Parker, Rubio, Flynn, Sessions, and Kevin Love) As for Camby, Haywood, and Dampier, those guys are not worth much more than the mid-level anyways and the Spurs have that whether they re-signed Ginobili or not. Plus Ginobili is much better than all three of them. All three are as injury prone or more so than Manu, plus Camby doesn’t show on pick and rolls (which is a giant part of NBA play), Haywood doesn’t always play hard and would create spacing issues for the Spurs, and Dampier is Dampier. As for Cousins. There’s not a bigger head case in this draft. He had a horrible attitude at Kentucky while he was working towards a multi-million dollar contract. I can’t wait to see his attitude and work ethic once he gets those millions! The Spurs that I know would never take a chance at Cousins.


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