As the NBA lockout drags on, the ESPN round table have continued to rank the NBA’s top 500 players.
Here is what they had to say:
Manu Ginobili at No. 18: Too high, too low or just right?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Just right. Although he’s an old 34, Ginobili remains one of the league’s best perimeter players. His ability to score from basically anywhere on the court goes unnoticed. When the game’s on the line, there are few players you’d rather have with the ball in their hands (unless someone’s wide-open — right, Henry?).
Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: Just right. While he’s entering his final act, Manu is still one of the most creative players in the league. Clutch may or may not be a thing, but Ginobili has a serious penchant for big shots. His injury history affects his ranking, but not by much. One of the most well-rounded performers of his generation.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Too low. It depends on how heavily you weigh his well-deserved reputation for being injury-prone. Does the fact that he’s almost certain to miss some games each season factor in? Then he’s ranked too high. But if we’re talking about a fully healthy Manu? Then I’d argue the game’s most inventive, fearless player deserves to be ranked higher.
Rob Mahoney, Two-Man Game: About right. Ginobili is the true star of the Spurs’ offense, the invaluable middle between Tony Parker’s one-man fast break and Tim Duncan’s patient approach in the post. Ginobili has long been one of the league’s best backcourt players, but the silver and black has a way of hiding all-world talent in plain view.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Just right. But only because of age and those nagging durability concerns. Based on sheer nightly impact, Manu could probably be higher.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Too high. Duncan sharply declined last season, enduring both the worst regular season and postseason of his career. He’s still a double-double threat, but the days of 22 and 12 have been replaced by outings of 13 and 9. It’s time we stop handing out lifetime achievement awards (like the 2011 All-Star Game). He’s fringe top-30.
Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: Too high. Functionally, he is still the same old player — no-nonsense, fundamentally sound, reliable. But the knees are starting to creak, and Duncan just can’t be expected to carry as much of a load as he has in the past. It’s scary seeing his minutes decrease. One day they’ll drop to zero. That’ll be a sad day.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Just right. On both ends of the floor, Duncan’s game has slid. But it slid from an all-time-great peak. He’s still one of the NBA’s great rebounders and has arguably the highest basketball IQ of any big man in the league.
Rob Mahoney, Two-Man Game: About right, but skewing a bit high. Duncan clearly isn’t the player he once was, but his work on the defensive end still has few contemporary equals. Where he’s really fallen off is on offense; Duncan is still a scoring threat, but no longer potent enough to serve as a singular offensive focus.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Just right. ‘Cause this guy has been such a phenomenal leader and winner in all the years I’ve been lucky enough to chronicle that, I simply can’t bring myself to boot him out of the top 20 yet. I know what the stats say. I’ve seen him dragging around on one good leg. But I’ll let somebody else tell you TD’s not young enough to be up here any more. Sue me.
Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Just right. Tony Parker has a few flaws in his game that limit him from being truly dominating. He can’t shoot 3-pointers and he’s still a weak defender. However, he’s so good at penetrating the defense and attacking in the pick-and-roll that his offensive attack can be suffocating for opponents. He’s not an elite point guard, but he’s definitely a top-30 guy.
Mike Kurylo, KnickerBlogger: Too low. The Spurs won 61 games and had the league’s second-best offense (111.8 offensive efficiency) with Tony Parker playing a team high 2,528 minutes. Coincidence? I think not.
Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: Just right. After an injury-plagued 2009-10 season, it seemed that Parker was on his way out of the league’s elite. A surge back to full strength aided by a revamped Popovich system made that season a distant memory. The new wave of point guards will ward Parker off eventually — but only in a few years.
Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball: Too high. Parker is still solid, but he’s not your average 29-year-old. He has a lot of miles on his legs, and without a 3-point shot to fall back on, he isn’t likely to age as well as a Steve Nash or a Jason Kidd. He was still strong last season, but bigger, more athletic point guards are taking over this league.
Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com: Just right. The guy has been an elite point guard for the last eight years or so. His prime could be coming to an end, so you’re in danger of being behind the curve by putting him here. But after injuries really knocked him down two seasons ago, he bounced back to a strong season in 2010-11. He’s earned his spot here.
What do you think Spurs fans? Share your thoughts on this matter.