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Don’t Look Now, But Manu Ginobili Is An All-Star (Again)

By Jeff Koch on December 30, 2013.

Sacramento 104, San Antonio 112

And I mean that quite literally: Manu Ginobili is playing at an NBA All-Star level.

The line is always fine with Ginobili, between the mad genius that sees the basketball court in a truly unique manner, and the high risk-low reward turnover machine that can kill momentum. The effort, vision, and passion are always there; the difference often lies in two things: turnovers and shooting percentage. (Truthfully, the difference often lies in health, but that’s another story.) This season, the turnovers are low, the shots are going on, and Ginobili is once again spearheading 4th quarter victories, willing the team to inspired basketball, is a candidate for 6th Man of the Year, is the team’s MVP…and should probably be put on the All-Star team.

The argument goes: No player from the Spurs will get voted into the All-Star game, but with the record and respect of the team, the coaches will surely vote at least one Spurs player into the game. The default assumption is that it would be Parker, perhaps Duncan. If Parker were to make it, it would be solely on reputation and past performance, because he has been average overall, and has stunk of late.

Manu is playing all around better basketball. More critically, the eye test bears this out. Every single player on the team–save for Duncan, who would be great with anybody–plays better alongside Manu. Even Parker. (Parker didn’t hit clutch shots until the end of the game when he was sharing the floor with Manu.) Marco’s numbers (and game) went into the tank as soon as he lost his playing time with Manu, while Green suddenly looked like the sniper from last year’s playoffs again when put into the second unit.

Manu’s minutes are probably too low, skewing his numbers too low, to get the bid. But if coaches are paying attention, they’ll know that Manu is the best guard on the Spurs this season. While he should definitely be the frontrunner for 6th Man of the Year, he should also be in the All-Star conversation.

As for the rest of the game, it was a win in name only, a thrilling yet hollow victory. The team gave up a 38-point quarter; Rudy Gay outplayed Kawhi, Thomas outplayed (severely) Parker; and the Kings had their way with the Spurs for most of the game. It was only Ginobili and the inexperience of the Kings late that allowed the Spurs to sneak away with a victory. I’ll take the win, but I won’t feel good about it.

Brooklyn comes to town New Year’s Eve. I’m excited to get an up-close look at the train wreck that is the Nets this season. It’s always good to get regular reminders of the benefits of being a Spurs fan.

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