We argue. You decide…
MANU GINOBILI (by Andrew Katz)
Manu’s game is an exercise in frustration. Judging his game on appearance, he doesn’t look like the guy who should be able to tack on 25 points in 30 minutes. And beyond that, he definitely doesn’t look like someone who would make an entire team look bad while doing so. But Ginobili has shown over and over again that looks can be deceiving.
Ginobili has built one of the most effective offensive arsenals in the League today by using a broader array of moves than anyone else. More than Kobe, Pierce, or anyone playing the game, Manu could easily use 10-15 different moves to beat his man within a 48-minute stretch.
And playing on a team stacked with talent, it’s got to be blood-boiling to have to step out on Manu and get beaten on his behind-the-back dribble one possession after he hit a step-back jumper from 22.
He’s a really cerebral player who toys with defenders in the same way that Better Basketball videos teach. First time down, he’ll dribble hard right and get past his defender. On trip number two, he’ll add a second step to that hard dribble by pushing off backwards for a fadeaway. And then on his next touch, he’ll hard dribble right, push back, and then up-fake to draw a foul.
He builds moves over the course of a game. And that obviously means that Manu’s best, toughest-to-guard combinations come in the fourth quarter. While it’s standard practice to see T-Mac fading away from 23, hoping that he’s locked-in enough to sink an impossible shot, Manu’s going to get a high percentage look when it matters most.
That translates into wins and losses, but not just in the regular season. Manu’s frustrating late-game antics — on both sides of the ball — are a key part in San Antone’s perennial place deep in the playoffs. Though McGrady shouldn’t shoulder all of the responsibility for his team’s playoff failings, he can’t be completely absolved of blame, either. Over the course of his career, he’s taken almost one full three-pointer more per game in the playoffs than he has during the regular season. And he’s actually made fewer (31.8% 3FG) in the postseason than over the first 82 (33.9% 3FG).
On the other hand, Ginobili has taken about half a trey more per night in the playoffs over his career, while making exactly the same rate (38% 3FG) in the postseason that he has done over the regular season.
Even if Manu is a flopper, he gets the job done. And he does it when it counts.
TRACY MCGRADY (by Austin Burton)
My standard philosophy is that, in cases where the talent level is essentially even, one man’s credentials as a winner should tip the scales in his favor. That’s why I’m probably the only person I know who would take Tony Parker over Deron Williams; since the talent is about equal, TP’s three championships, one Finals MVP and two All-Star nods give him the edge over Deron’s collective doughnut in those particular categories.
So you would think that in this case, Manu versus T-Mac, I’d go with the other three-time champion in San Antonio’s backcourt. After all, T-Mac hasn’t even been past the first round of the playoffs — not even close enough to a ‘chip to shoot one of those dramatic “posing with the trophy” ABC commercials. And while that’s not all his fault, it’s not not his fault.
Here’s the thing, though: T-Mac is significantly more talented than Manu, to the point where his postseason failures don’t matter when determining who is the better player in this instance.
I have said and will continue to say that, when healthy, McGrady is right up there with Kobe and D-Wade in the NBA two-guard hierarchy. As a scorer, he can go off for 30 points on a whim, against any defense, slicing opponents from anywhere within 25 feet of the rim. And among two-guards and wings, there may not be a better ball-handler or passer in the League. Guys like Wade and Kobe can be amazing passers when they want to be, but what separates T-Mac is that he doesn’t have to “want to.” He’s a natural playmaker, more in the LeBron mold. But that doesn’t mean McGrady is passive at all in crunch time. McGrady knows his role on the team, he knows that the game’s decisive possessions will be in his hands, and he has enough game-winners and clutch buckets under his belt to know when to go into Takeover mode.
Age and injuries have obviously affected T-Mac’s performance, especially this season as he’s averaging just 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists; statistical low-points in the post-Toronto portion of his career. He’s only 29 years old, but as the Clippers announcers pointed out during Houston’s loss in L.A. over the weekend, Mac’s 700-something career games seems more like 1,000-plus. His biggest problem is that he simply cannot control injuries, just like Gale Sayers couldn’t, just like Grant Hill couldn’t, just like Ken Griffey Jr. couldn’t.
When his body is cooperating, however, you can count the number of players in the NBA who are flat-out better than Tracy McGrady on one hand. And as it stands, Manu Ginobili doesn’t crack that five-finger roll call.
Who do you think is better?
“Who’s better?” archives
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12/4 — Brandon Roy vs. Joe Johnson
12/3 — Dwight Howard vs. Yao Ming
12/2 — Paul Pierce vs. Carmelo Anthony