Mar 17, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) waits for play to resume against the Dallas Mavericks during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Spurs 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
ESPN has officially embarked on their quest to rank the top 500 NBA players for the upcoming season. As each Spur is listed, I will provide a synopsis and a brief take on why they deserve (or don’t) this ranking.
Tim Duncan had a decent 15th NBA season.
By decent, I mean …
Only Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Al Jefferson posted higher PER’s at center than Duncan last season.
Duncan grabbed 18.3% of San Antonio’s rebounds while he was on the floor, putting him eighth in the league.
He attempted 4.2 shots per game from 16-23 feet, generally regarded as the least efficient spot on the floor, and converted on 47%. Even though he allocated more shots to this area, and his shooting efficiency dropped as a result, he was still a better shooter than every center not named Zaza Pachulia.
He was a much different player but still good enough to garner a top 30 ranking from ESPN NBA Rank. He finished 27th, down eight spots from last year.
Coupled with the fact that Duncan is 36-years-old and, yeah, it is pretty impressive. And while he is not an elite post threat anymore, though scoring 0.83 points per possession on post-ups should suffice, he does more than enough on the defensive side of the ball to remain one of the essential tenets of any team.
And asset is really underselling his defensive impact. The Spurs allowed 6.1 points per 100 possessions less with Duncan on the floor, meaning that they can churn out elite levels of defensive efficiency as long as Duncan is on the floor.
My take. It is here where you can realize the elite talent on this Spurs roster. Duncan, judging by his ranking, is good enough to be the best player on any team. On San Antonio, he was considered as the third best player on the team behind Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who have yet to be listed.
Other Spurs already ranked: Kawhi Leonard (95) | Tiago Splitter (149) | Stephen Jackson (151) | DeJuan Blair (155) | Danny Green (160) | Boris Diaw (162) | Gary Neal (171) | Matt Bonner (198) | Patty Mills (309) | James Anderson (424) | Cory Joseph (458) | Derrick Byars (488)