May 7, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) on the bench late during the second half of game four in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. The Spurs defeated the Jazz 87-81 to sweep Utah and win the series. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE
The profileMinutes: 28.2Points: 15.4Rebounds: 9.0Assists: 2.3FG%: 49.2%3P%: 0.0%FT%: 69.5%
The (advanced) profileTS%: 53.1%USG%: 26.2%PER: 22.5Offensive PPP: 0.96 (95th)Defensive PPP: 0.73 (32nd)Offensive rating (points per 100 possessions): 108Defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 99
He’s too old. Father Time is going to finish him off. He won’t finish the season unless Gregg Popovich limits his minutes to about 20 per game. San Antonio can’t rely on him offensively. He’s going to over exert himself during a condensed season that will put immense amount of pressure on his knees. More agile big men will dominate his wretched corpse. The 2011-12 season won’t go well for Tim Duncan.
Not only did the 2011-12 season go remarkably well for a 36-year-old veteran with nearly 40,000 minutes on his odometer (39,832 to be exact) but the quality of basketball was pretty unprecedented.
I may have sensationalized the national media’s perception on Tim Duncan a little bit (ok a lot … especially the “wretched corpse” part which, admittedly, is a bit much) but Duncan exceeded even the most optimistic Spurs fans expectations. His 2011-12 season won’t stack up with his ethereal dominance amidst the Spurs’ dynastic run from a purely numerical standpoint. (Check out his absolutely ridiculous stats from the 2001-02 season just in case you forgot how good Duncan was.)
When you adjust for his age and the minutes he received this season, Duncan’s season is even more impressive. Per 36 minutes, Duncan averaged 19.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.9 blocks. Those numbers are particularly noteworthy because they are really, really close to his career norms. Does Timmeh know that basketball players aren’t supposed to be playing this well at this stage of their careers? Who didn’t give him the memo? (Whoever didn’t … good work.)
Consistency. That’s the prevailing narrative that I am going to take away from yet another brilliant season from Duncan. He consistently provided an effective safety valve for the No. 1 ranked offense, found open cutters, set effective screens, took advantage of the extra defensive attention by knocking down mid-range jumpers and gave the Spurs perimeter defenders security because he resided in the paint just in case they overcompensated. He did this every night. He didn’t carry the team offensively on most nights but, frankly, he didn’t need to. Duncan simply allocated his unabashed attention to making his teammates lives considerably easier. When he wasn’t covering for their mistakes, he was instilling confidence in the younger players by simply believing in them. And the fact that he played 58 of 66 games in an insane lockout season without any notable injuries? Remarkable.
Now I don’t even want to think about thinking about the prospect of Timmeh retiring. A couple of days after San Antonio was eliminated from the playoffs, I ventured to the movie theaters. I turned my phone off because I didn’t want to be a complete jackass. Once the movie ended, I turned on my phone only to read a text from a good friend of mine.
He asked whether Tim Duncan retired with three question marks tacked on the end for good measure. Since I wasn’t connected to the actual world for two hours, I frantically searched Twitter for a reprieve from the potential nightmare that might’ve ensued in my brief absence. I scanned the internet for a good solid 30 minutes before coming to the conclusion that he didn’t retire. I was relieved. The entire ordeal taught me, though, that I am not still ready to see my favorite basketball player of all-time exit my life.
He’s just too valuable to leave now, too influential on the court and off the court. Not when they were dangerously close of winning another NBA Championship. Not when he’s still capable of putting together above-average box score lines. That’s how I’m approaching his looming free agency decision.
I don’t even want to envision the future without him. I don’t think I’m ready.
Performance of the year: June 6, 2012 at Oklahoma City. L 99-107.The line: 20:27 MIN | 11-23 FG | 3-4 FT | 14 REB | 2 AST | 25 PTS | -3
This wasn’t one of Tim Duncan’s best statistical nights but on a night where only four Spurs made a shot in the second half and Tony Parker was completely stymied by the Oklahoma City defense, Duncan maintained the course and kept his team in the game as long as humanly possible.
Season grade: A