Appreciating Tim Duncan's Vintage Season
At this point it's customary: the San Antonio Spurs are once again the top team in the league.
Their 43-12 record indicates routine dominance displayed by their players, headed by Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. The latter, who till turn 37 in April, is having one of the best seasons of his career, despite his age.
Duncan is often referred to as the greatest power forward of all time, and rightly so. His career averages of 20.2 points and 11.2 rebounds, alongside 3.1 assists and 2.2 blocks, are absolutely Hall-of-Fame-worthy. Many expected to see Duncan decline this year. He's done everything but.
The veteran Spur is putting up 17.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in just 29.7 minutes per game, leading his team to success. He and Parker are one of the most potent combinations in the history of the NBA, and they continue to display incredible efficiency.
With San Antonio being a small market organization, Duncan isn't receiving due credit for his efforts thus far. Not that he'd be the one to tell you that, as Duncan's laid-back demeanor is a mirror of his play on the court.
However, Duncan has been outright dominant defensively this season.
He's rejecting 2.8 shots per game, which would be his highest since way back in the 2002-03 season. If that wasn't enough, Duncan's limited 29.7 minutes point to an even greater impact on that end of the floor per minute played.
When he was blocking 2.9 attempts in the aforementioned season about a decade ago, Duncan was getting 39.3 minutes of action. Considering that he is putting forth the same production defensively, playing a quarter of the game less, at 36 years of age, is phenomenal.
Is Duncan's season MVP worthy?
Step away from Duncan's stellar defense and you'll see he's actually performing better overall. The Big Fundamental's 17.0 points and 9.7 rebounds this year dwarf the 15.4 and 9.0 from last season, in addition to the 13.4 and 8.9 from the 2010-11 season.
Duncan's only playing an extra minute per game than those seasons, yet is obliterating those prior outputs and putting up numbers like he did when he averaged nearly a full game's worth of minutes. Consistent with just about every opinion, this indicates not only the greatness of Duncan, but the genius of long-time Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
When the discussions surrounding the league's Most Valuable Player begin, the Spurs have two extremely serious candidates in Duncan and Parker.
The latter has stepped his game up when the former is absent, and will likely be the favorite representing San Antonio, but it shouldn't take away from what Duncan has accomplished this season.
Duncan and the Spurs are synonymous, and while he'll rightly be glorified as their greatest player, not enough attention is being credited to him this season. However, much like San Antonio's success, it isn't likely Duncan ever will get the credit he deserves.
All information sourced from espn.com/nba/statistics.
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