With a team like our San Antonio Spurs, it’s often difficult to say any single player is the best, or the most important, or the most valuable.
Then again, we all know that this team, despite it’s egalitarianism, has always rested firmly on the shoulders of one player when it comes to crunch time and playoff success.
From 1998 to 2005, that player was Tim Duncan. No one would argue otherwise.
In the 2007 playoffs, Tony Parker became the man, leading the Spurs to a four game sweep of the Cavaliers in the Finals on his way to being awarded the Finals MVP.
For a few weeks in 2010, Manu Ginobili was arguably the best player on the planet. Remember when Manu scored 38 against the Cavaliers, 38 against the Hawks, and 43 against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic? How could you forget?!?
And in the 2014 playoffs, we watched the rise of Kawhi Leonard, who surprised the league, but not us, when he won the Finals MVP.
So returning to our question: who will have the most impact this season?
There are many ways to measure a player’s impact, or value. One of the most popular and widely cited is Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER), which calculates a player’s per-minute productivity using a player’s positive (e.g. field goals) and negative (e.g. turnovers) accomplishments.
According to Hollinger, the most efficient Spurs last season were: Tim Duncan (22.69) and Kawhi Leonard (22.09). (Note: LaMarcus Aldridge’s PER with the Blazers was 22.85 — 11th best in the NBA.)
In previous seasons, these Spurs player’s PER ranked among the top 50 in the NBA:
- 2014: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Patty Miils
- 2013: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter
- 2012: Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter
- 2011: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker
Another way to consider a single player’s impact is Win Shares, or how many wins a player contributed. By that metric, the best players recently have been:
- 2015: Duncan, Leonard, Green, Joseph, Parker
- 2014: Leonard, Duncan, Bellinelli, Parker, Ginobili
- 2013: Parker, Duncan, Splitter, Leonard, Green
- 2012: Parker, Duncan, Leonard, Splitter, Green
- 2011: Ginobili, Parker, Duncan, Hill, Jefferson
Here are the players currently on the Spurs roster for this season:
Based on the criteria above, or however you gauge things, what do you think?