Manu Ginobili is one of the first players from Argentina to play in the NBA. Originally drafted in the late second round of the 1999 NBA Draft, Ginobili did not join the franchise until the 2002-03 season. Before coming to the NBA, he played professional basketball in Argentina and Italy. Between the time of his selection and his move to the NBA, Manu Ginobili gained clout in international play, eventually becoming the MVP of the Italian League.
For the majority of his NBA career, the Spurs have been using Manu Ginobili as a super-sub, ala John Havlicek in his early seasons. Beginning in his rookie season, Ginobili gave an elite team a fantastic second unit, having an instant impact on a contender. In his first postseason, he averaged nine points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Ginobili provided a nice lift as the Spurs went on to win the 2003 NBA Finals.
Manu Ginobili was already an NBA Champion in his rookie season, but his growth as a player had barely started. After a strong showing in the second half of the 2002-2003 season, Ginobili took on an increased role in his sophomore campaign. He started 38 of 77 games while averaging 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.
Even after joining the NBA, Manu Ginobili was not done as an international star. Playing for Argentina in the 2004 Olympic Games, Ginobili led his native country to the gold medal. Success was becoming the norm for Ginobili. In his third season, the Spurs made him a fulltime starter. His minutes barely changed, but his production and efficiency improved significantly. Averaging 16 points on 47 percent shooting, he developed into the third star on a team that already boasted NBA MVP Tim Duncan and star point guard Tony Parker.
The Spurs’ star trio proved too much for the western conference to handle as they carried the Spurs to the 2005 NBA Finals. In the championship series, Ginobili averaged 19 points, six rebounds, and four assists as the Spurs won a hard-fought match-up with the Pistons to take home their second championship in three years.
Ginobili and the Spurs continued their trend of winning championships in alternate years by beating the Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals. His best statistical season came in 2007-08. Averaging 19.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.5 steals, Ginobili earned his first appearance on an All-NBA team and was named the Sixth Man of the Year.
A remarkably successful player and perennial Sixth Man of the Year Award candidate, Manu Ginobili won the award in 2008 and has been an All-Star and an All-NBA player in his eight-year NBA career. He mixes great driving skills with a sweet lefty touch and is a career 38 percent three-point shooter. A great player on both ends of the floor, Manu Ginobili is a three-time NBA Champion and an Olympic gold medalist.