“The Big Fundamental”, “the Ageless One”, Tim Duncan. Whatever you want to call him, make sure to include the words "best", "power forward" and "ever."
Duncan might not have been the most exciting power forward to watch. He did not score like Karl Malone, revolutionize the position like Kevin Garnett, nor did he exude Charles Barkley’s personality. What he did do is develop into the most well-rounded four of all time.
Take a look at his list of accomplishments: Four NBA titles, three NBA Finals MVPs, two NBA MVPs, 14 All-Star appearances, 13 All-NBA teams, 13 All-Defensive teams, 15th all time in total rebounds, eighth in blocks and 24th in points. The list literally could go on for pages.
After deducing all those records, the one thing that stands out is Duncan’s overall ability to impact the game (per David DuPree of USA Today):
"I think all around, there's never been a big forward quite like him," said Hall of Fame coach and analyst Jack Ramsay. "Bob Pettit was a great scorer and rebounder. Karl Malone was a more powerful player, but they didn't have the versatility Tim does. Kevin McHale was probably the best low-post, back-to-the-basket big forward, and he was a good defender, but he, too, couldn't do the things Duncan can do."
His career continues on as the counterparts that once were his rivals, begin to fade away. While he is no longer reaching his career averages of 20.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.2 blocks per game, he certainly is not far off.
Tim is having his best season in the last three years, averaging 17 points, 9.7 rebounds and nearly a career-high 2.8 blocks per game. Just as we thought Duncan was fading and no longer capable of being a focal point for one of the best teams in the league, he proved everyone wrong again.
Furthermore, San Antonio’s offense has drastically changed. They no longer play at a crawling pace, focusing on dumping the ball to Tim in the post. Instead, they are pushing the tempo and allowing Tony Parker to be the main catalyst on offense. Despite all these changes, Tim Duncan continues to adapt and excel.
Imagine attempting to guard Duncan, even today. Carlos Boozer states it perfectly:
"He's probably the best post-up player we have in the world," Utah's Carlos Boozer said. "He has every move. He has poise. He never gets rattled. You can send a double-team at him, but he'll pass out of it. If he has single coverage, he'll face you up and shoot off the glass, get the layup, spin move baseline, right hook, left hook, fadeaway.
"He can do whatever he wants down there."
Sure, Duncan is no longer the offensive threat he used to be, but does he need to be? The real question is, can Duncan help lead the Spurs to one more title in the twilight of his career? Considering the Spurs have the best record in the league so far this season, it seems quite possible.
The next question: Where does Duncan rank should he win his fifth title? The answer is simple, elite.
Duncan’s fifth title would tie him with all-time greats like Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and George Mikan. No other power forward in league history will have more titles and a similar statistical resume, let alone the accolades.
Those who do not consider Tim Duncan the greatest power forward of all time, would seriously have to consider changing their opinions should Duncan win a fifth title. In fact, they should already consider changing their opinions.
Duncan’s career is undoubtedly one of the most impressive in league history, let alone for his position. Adding one more championship trophy would solidify him as not only the best power forward ever, but one of the greatest champions the league has ever seen.