“When they talk about an old man's game, that's fundamental basketball,” said Elliott. “But it's also having savvy. You have a lot of young players today that are super athletic and that's what they rely on. They don't necessarily rely on their instincts or their savvy.”'
Ginobili, meanwhile, has been labeled more unorthodox.
“Obviously, they have very natural talent,” Brooks said. “But they work on it every day. You can tell. The way they play, the way they attack the rim, you don't just wake up one morning and have that. It's a skill that has been worked on.”
Ginobili, who has battled injuries this season, has been a problem for the Thunder. Like Harden, Brooks said, Ginobili's versatility causes him to be a primary focus on the scouting report.
“We've tried many different tactics against Manu, and he somehow gets in there and makes big shots,” Brooks said. “And they're both good 3-point shooters, so that really helps because you can't play one way because they can shoot and put it on the floor.”
The most glaring difference between Harden and Ginobili at this point is success. Ginobili, now 34, is a three-time champion, two-time NBA All-Star, two-time All-NBA Third Team selection and a Sixth Man of the Year winner. Before joining the NBA at 25, Ginobili was an accomplished player overseas, winning an Italian League Championship twice, the 2001 FIBA Americas Championship and a Euroleague championship in 2001. Ginobili has since won an Olympic gold medal with Argentina in 2004.
“It remains to be seen if James can be the player that Manu is,” Elliott said. “I mean, Manu has won gold medals and NBA championships and he's got an incredible will to win. I haven't watched James enough to say that he has that. I haven't seen him enough in big situations to say that he has that yet.”