Manu Ginobili vs. Chris Paul: Who Was Better?

Manu Ginobili is arguably the greatest foreign player ever to wear an NBA uniform—it’s pretty much down to him or Dirk Nowitzki.

Which led the Twitter summer hot take machine to toss out this beauty of an argument over the weekend.

The whole thing got me thinking. Chris Paul is worth a few superlatives in his own right, but the biggest one might be one he shares with John Stockton and Karl Malone as the best players never to win a championship.

Paul is in Oklahoma City now, but his career may as well be over. If anything, the 34-year-old stands to benefit if we compare him to Ginobili before Paul has a chance to lower his overall advanced stats by the putrid seasons he will no doubt produce before he is finally forced to retire. His career averages will never again be as good as they are right now.

Let’s do a side-by-side comparison first via traditional stats and barbershop measures, then we’ll go headlong into the advanced stats and see if we can determine a winner.

The Counting Stats

Let’s start with rings. Manu 4, CP3 0. That’s going to hang over every single argument from here out.

But we can just as easily turn that around and compare “black ink”. Ginobili never led the NBA in any statistical category; Paul led the league in assists per game four times and steals six times. And in terms of advanced-stat black ink, throw in CP3’s six times leading the league in assist percentage, four times in steal percentage, three times in offensive win shares, and once each in overall win shares and WS/48 (2008, Paul’s first All-Star year, when he finished second in the MVP voting because Kobe Bryant was the bigger name. CP3 should’ve won that year, but there was a lot of pressure to vote for Kobe after Steve Nash won the previous two awards.)

Anyway, Ginobili was never the very best player in the league at his position and he never came within ten miles of real MVP consideration.

If we go by black ink and add in CP3’s 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 9.7 assists compared to Ginobili’s 13.3, 3.5, and 3.8, this seems like it’s an utterly ridiculous argument.

The Advanced Stats

You know how I mentioned that CP3 led the league in OWS three times and overall WS and WS/48 once?

Well, it’s not like Ginobili was a slouch, and he didn’t have to carry his team in San Antonio with the likes of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker as his teammates.

Ginobili reached .200 WS/48 or better (a point at which a team full of such players would be expected to go 82-0) seven times before he, at age 34 (the same age Paul is now) began to decline. He posted four VORP or better six times and peaked at 5.9 in 2008, getting fringe MVP votes even as he was a distant 10th in the MVP race.

In 1,057 career games, Ginobili got to 106.4 WS (even finishing his career at .190 per 48 minutes despite his long decline between 2013 and 2018.) He totaled 47.1 VORP.

Paul has played 950 career games and has…wow. 171.5 WS (a career .247 per 48 minutes) and 78.3 VORP. In, as mentioned, over 100 fewer games even as he’s played almost 7,000 more minutes.

Manu’s career-high VORP of 5.9? Paul’s beaten it five times and nearly broke it in his rookie year (5.7 VORP in 2005-06.)

Paul was the undisputed best player on his team for the first 12 years of his career. It’s only after he got to Houston and his body started to break down the way all little guys do in their 30s that he wasn’t “the man” on his team.

And even in those cases, Paul’s notched 6.6 VORP and 16.8 Win Shares in the past two seasons, including a .265 WS/48, better than Ginobili’s best season, in 2017-18.


Is Manu Ginobili a Hall of Famer? Without even the smallest question. He is a legend in San Antonio and deserves every single accolade he’s been given and then some.

But better than Chris Paul? C’mon, man. We stan Sheed’s Law around here. And ball don’t lie—Chris Paul is one of the greatest point guards in the entire history of the league, a guy who gets underrated because his teams never won anything but who has a strong case for third place (behind Stockton and Malone) on the list of best players never to win a championship.

No, Manu Ginobili is not better than Chris Paul.