2013 NBA Finals: Is Manu Ginobili Overrated?
After coming within a single point of their fifth Larry O’Brien Trophy, the San Antonio Spurs fell to the Miami Heat in seven games. This was due in no small part to the poor ball-handling and shooting of Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
One thing that got to me about the commentary relating to Ginobili is that the pundits continually refer to him as a “future Hall of Famer." Maybe it’s me siding with those who say the Hall of Fame has been watered down of late, but I believe Manu’s chances at Springfield are 50-50. And his underwhelming performance in the 2013 NBA Finals has done nothing to help in this regard.
There are some compelling cases against Ginobili being in the Hall of Fame. Ginobili’s career scoring average is just under 15 points a contest, and he has never averaged 20 points a contest over the course of a season.
Ginobili’s career PRA (points + rebounds + assists) per game is just 22.8. Joe Dumars and Arvydas Sabonis are the only Hall of Famers with worse PRA numbers among those who played their entire career with a shot clock.
Ginobili has never made the All-NBA First Team or the All-NBA Second Team; he does have a pair of All-NBA Third Team selections. Of the more than 100 NBA players who made it to Springfield, only 14 have never made an All-NBA First or Second Team. By contrast, there are a number of people who have made multiple All-NBA First or Second Teams and aren’t in the Hall of Fame.
Ginobili also has only a pair of All-Star appearances. Only six Hall of Famers with NBA experience have fewer.
Add to that the fact that he’s a sub-par defender, a not-that-great passer and has aged beyond his years due to numerous injuries inflicted by a reckless style of play, and I feel comfortable in my assertion that calling Ginobili a future Hall of Famer may be selling him too long.
But can I prove it with stats?
Over the past few months, I have been developing a statistic called the Bennett Greatness Index (first posited at B/R in this article), which assigns point values to a myriad of player accomplishments.
The point values assigned to each are delineated in the table below and vary from one point for every 1,000 points to four points for each NBA championship. It is designed so a great NBA player will often score 10 to 15 points higher in each category than an average NBA player.
For reference, I thought I would compare Manu Ginobili to nine other shooting guards of his generation, including six future Hall of Famers (two of whom Manu played against in these recent Finals). I also included seven all-time greats at the shooting guard or combo guard position. In all, I am comparing Ginobili to 16 other men who played a similar position.
Points awarded for 1 of this stat
|Player||Champs||All-Star||All-NBA 1st||All-NBA 2nd||All-NBA 3rd||WS||PER||TOTAL|
|Points awarded for 1 of this stat||4||1||5||3||1||0.1||1|
As you can see, Ginobili stacks up poorly against most of the 16 other men I looked at. For reference, only Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar score over 300, all-time greats like Tim Duncan or LeBron James are in the 200s and a typical Hall of Famer has at least 90 to 100 points on this index.
With a score of 86, Ginobili has fewer points than nearly all NBA players who have made it to Springfield, including almost all shooting guards.
In addition to statistics in my Greatness Index, I also looked at PRA, steals, turnovers, true shooting percentage and seven-year peak win shares (the last the basis for the Baseball Prospectus stat JAWS). Though Ginobili is middle-of-the-pack in win shares and tops in true shooting, he is dead last among the 17 2-guards I considered in both PRA career and per game.
Some of you may be thinking that the formula is bunk, particularly because I assign a relatively low number to each championship (Ginobili has won three with the Spurs). It's worth noting that team performance figures explicitly into the win shares stat and implicitly into other stats.
Is Manu Ginobili overrated?
Furthermore, titles don't seem to be the best correlation of getting in the Hall or not. Reggie Miller and Bernard King are both in Hall of Fame, despite neither having rings nor being top-shelf players.
K.C. Jones and Frank Ramsay are pretty much the only Hall of Famers who have gotten in solely on titles (i.e. without any major statistical accomplishments or All-NBA selections). By contrast, you have someone like Horace Grant, who has four rings, more career points than Manu and isn't in the Hall of Fame.
Your other complaint may be that my analysis doesn't consider Ginobili's international career, and you're right in that the metric only looks at what happened in the NBA or ABA. However, you have to remember that Ginobili played most of his international competitions alongside Luis Scola, a man who has a trio of FIBA Americas Championship MOPs to his name.
Bottom line: If Ginobili gets in, it will only be because of his success with Argentina and the Euroleague, and even then he shouldn't be selected in his first year of eligibility.
All Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
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