Manu Ginobili was in a slump throughout the entire postseason, and the Finals were no different. In the playoffs, he averaged the second-lowest postseason field goal percentage of his career (39.9 percent), and had the lowest scoring average since his rookie season (per Basketball Reference).
Ginobili really only had one great game in the Finals against the Miami Heat, and that was Game 5 where he scored 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field, while dishing out 10 assists. He played solid in Game 7, but his misfired passes and late-game turnover with less than 30 seconds left basically blew it for the San Antonio Spurs.
Showing Signs of Age
Ginobili is 35 years old and will turn 36 when the 2013-14 season starts. Although he posted a modest 2011-12 campaign, he has averaged the lowest minutes per game in the past two years since his rookie season.
Gregg Popovich is a master of managing playing time, but there has to be something with Ginobili that he has noticed and others haven't.
Ginobili is no longer part of the Spurs' 'Big Three,' and he cannot be relied upon to contribute at a high level every game anymore. Once in a while, he may have a great performance and prove doubters wrong, but he just doesn't have the ability to do it on a consistent basis anymore (i.e. Game 5 of the Finals).
We doubted Tim Duncan a few years ago after the Spurs got knocked out of the first round, but he bounced back this season and proved, once again, that he is the greatest power forward to ever play the game.
However, Ginobili's playstyle is much more wreckless and requires a lot more speed and quickness to be effective. He might be going downhill in the same direction as Dwyane Wade, and he doesn't have anything else to rely on.
The Emergence of Kawhi Leonard
Throughout the midst of Finals paranoia and the Spurs blowing a late fourth-quarter lead in Game 6, Kawhi Leonard emerged as one of the bright young stars in the NBA. LeBron James' performance in Game 7 to clinch the championship will be remembered years from now, but Leonard's performance was admirable.
Leonard scored 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in Game 7, and he seemed to have an answer for every run that the Heat were about to make to close out the Spurs.
After Duncan, Leonard was the only other player who had a consistent impact throughout the entire postseason run.
Ginobili, whose contract has expired, will be the odd man out on the Spurs. He made minimal contributions during the playoffs after the series against the Golden State Warriors. Leonard doesn't have the court vision or playmaking ability of Ginobili yet, but he's still improving everyday and could become even better than him because of his gifted athleticism.