Manu Ginobili is one of the most unique stars to ever dribble a ball in the NBA, an international player that's been a puzzle for defenders to decipher throughout his career.
The versatile lefty slithered like a snake through defenses, passed like a world-class point guard, used unguardable angles when finishing around the rim and could spread the floor from mid-range out to the three-point line during his heyday.
There's a reason Ginobili's been able to stay relevant in the NBA, even as he's set to embark on his 16th season with the San Antonio Spurs as a 40-year-old man. Whether he'd return for another run with San Antonio as one of the offseason's big questions, but Manu wasn't ready to leave his playing days behind him.
The Spurs have slowly been transitioning away from leaning the three stars that made them a dynasty over the last two decades. Tim Duncan's now retired, Tony Parker's playing less-and-less minutes and is now coming off a brutal quadriceps tendon tear and Ginobili's role has been diminishing while Kawhi Leonard's has been growing.
That hasn't stopped Ginobili from being one of the toughest players in the league to defend. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype spoke to a number of NBA players, getting their opinion on the toughest players they've defended. JJ Redick gave two hat tips to the Spurs, including a very big one to Ginobili.
“I think Kawhi Leonard is really tough. Manu Ginobili still, to a degree, but Manu Ginobili circa 2009 to 2012 was such a monster. There were a few years where the Spurs were Manu’s team. He’d play like 28 minutes a night, but he’d average about 20 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds," Redick said.
That's always been the beauty of Ginobili's game. He never needed 35-to-40 minutes per game to make an impact as a starter. No matter what his role, or how many minutes Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich allotted for him, Manu remained incredibly productive all over the court.
"He was a monster. He was essentially [James] Harden before Harden. Harden is now the modern version of Ginobili. Manu was tough," Redick added.
It's not the first time Harden has been compared to Ginobili, but it is notable coming from the mouth of an NBA player who's actually defended both men. It's hard not to see shades of Harden's game when watching Ginobili in his prime, and that's a huge compliment to both men.