In the end, it doesn’t really matter. If Ginobili is healthy, he’ll get to play close to 30 minutes every night for the Spurs, whether it’s coming off the bench or featuring in the starting lineup next to Duncan and Tony Parker.
To Ginobili personally it doesn’t matter. He gave up making more money for a bigger role and for better stat numbers a long time ago. It’s being part of this organization that’s been running like a machine for almost 15 years now, and just playing the part Popovich needs him to play. Be it a starter, like in the 2010-2011 season, starting 79 of 80 games, playing just over 30 minutes a night and averaging 17.4 points; or coming off the bench for most of last season, missing half of it anyway, shooting much less and playing much more of an actual point guard when he was on the floor with the second unit.
I expect to come from the bench again, but who knows for how long? Every year, it changes. But I don’t think we’re going to change much this time. We finished the last season great, 20 wins a row. Unfortunately, we lost the last four. It happens. But I think we found a good bench combination with Stephen Jackson, Tiago Splitter, Gary Neal, Matt Bonner and me. We had a great second unit that was very successful last year, so I don’t think that much is going to change.
And maybe it’s good for Ginobili to play less and spend a little less time with Tony Parker on the floor. The transition the Spurs have gone through over the last couple of seasons, which was from a slower paced team and more of a defense juggernaut changed once Bruce Bowen retired. Slowly, they’ve turned into one of the higher paces teams in the NBA, with the best offense as well. A lot of it comes from Tony Parker constantly pushing this team forward, and maybe all the running up and down kinda gets to Ginobili once he plays big minutes. The Spurs are still an incredible team when all “big three” are on the floor together, but the wear and tear gets higher by the minute.
At 35, going back to an 82 game season, Ginobili needs his rest. It’s highly unlikely he would have been able to pull off something similar to the 2010-2011 season without having it take a big toll on his body, missing a big chunk of the season once again. With the development of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, hopefully taking it forward to another level on both ends of the floor, giving the Spurs a bit more of the defensive toughness that it has lost over the last three seasons, without giving up anything offensively.
Ginobili? He’s just part of a rare group of players who seemingly have no ego, and just fit into a unit willing to play any part and position that’s necessary, trying to squeeze out another title before it’s too late.