[Bdiddy — “I’m back again with another post from Vinay (Dude’s just tearing it up!) that tackles a question that seems to be on a lot of people’s minds lately. Honestyly, I have never questioned that Timmy would be in LA for the ASG this year, but I also fantasize about putting my hand in garbage disposals. So without further ado, I give you Vinay!”]
Tim Duncan is undoubtedly one of the 10 best NBA players of all time, and probably the greatest power forward ever. That being said, is The Big Fundamental a Western Conference All-Star this year? To answer, we’re first going to have to acknowledge that yes Timmy’s production has slipped. He’s averaging a career-low 13.8 points per game, and for the first time ever he’s below 10 rebounds per game as well. This quantative drop is also matched by a qualitative drop in his play; his play is not as smooth, the rotations are a bit slower, people challenge him at the rim, and he has to work harder for every score. But comparing 2011 Tim Duncan to 2003 Tim Duncan isn’t the issue here; but how he compares to the other big men in the West.
The answer; I’d still consider Duncan as one of the top 5 big men in the whole NBA, let alone the West, and in that regard he certainly deserves a spot on the all-star team. But how does he match up statistically; production-wise?
At this point, it’s become obvious that Dirk Nowitzki, he of the 1st Round MVP, will be the starter at power forward, and Pau Gasol at center (two choices I’m perfectly fine with by the way). Additionally, it’s a mortal lock at this point that Blake Griffin will be in this game with his ferocious dunking and position as the game’s most marketable young player… Which leaves two maybe three spots for pure big men on the All-Star team; depending on how things fall. With that in mind, I’d like to take a look at the stats of Duncan as they compare to the other 5 big men with any shot at those slots: Luis Scola, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, and Zach Randolph (quietly underrated). Now keep in mind, that qualitatively you’d take Duncan in a heartbeat over any of these guys except for Love and maybe Millsap.
First a look at the basic facts:
To do an effective comparison, I had to take into account the fact that Timmy is playing far fewer minutes than the other five guys, so I adjusted his stats so that they’d reflect out over the average of 35.9 minutes per game played by the other guys. Once the comparisons are made, it’s pretty obvious that Duncan matches up well with the rest, and even outperforms in certain categories. He’s the only shot-blocker of any real significance, scores the ball pretty well, and doesn’t kill his team with his shooting percentages. Overall, when you take into account his per 36 minute averages, I’d say Duncan eclipses all but Love (maybe) with his stats.
Then, I decided to take into account the efficiencies and usage rates for the players, in addition to a little stat I invented called points created per game, which is equal to (points per game + (assists per game * 2.2). This helps us take into account the passing skills of the player as well as their scoring. I then found the ratio between that stat and usage rate to measure how efficiently the person was doing it. For comparison purposes, Chris Paul currently has a ratio of 1.71.
Once again, the moral of the story is that Duncan has better stats than everybody except for Love (though Millsap’s scoring is impressive with that kind of usage rate). The guys at NBA.com also discussed this question and one of them made a very important point. Duncan’s at a point in his career where this All-Star nod is going to be as much about recognizing his greatness as it is his accomplishments this year (like David Robinson in 01/02). Additionally, isn’t it fitting that the Spurs, the best team in the ENTIRE NBA by record should have more than one All Star (Ginobili is a lock; as the boys over at 48 Minutes of Hell pointed out. Parker’s lost in a glut of quality guards, so it’s got to be Duncan. As for David Kahn championing Darko Milicic: No guy who sets picks on his own teammates should ever play in an All Star Game…