San Antonio Spurs News

Is Tim Duncan Still An Elite Big Man?

By George Middleton
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Tim Duncan doesn’t need to prove a thing to anyone anymore as he has done everything an NBA player can dream of. Duncan just finished leading the Spurs to their fifth title in his career with them, at the age of 38. While Duncan doesn’t post the 20 points and 11 rebounds he has averaged in his career, he still tends to dominate games at both ends in stretches.

Duncan’s numbers have gone down primarily because of his minutes. In Duncan’s prime he averaged anywhere between 35 and 40 minutes. This year Duncan averaged 29.2 minutes, which is significantly lower than the elite big man, who average around 35 per game. Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, and LaMarcus Aldridge, the leagues best power forwards all averaged just above 36 minutes a game.

Despite playing just under 30 minutes a game, Duncan averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.9 blocks.

Duncan Stats Per 36 minutes: 18.7 points, 12 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 2.3 blocks

Duncan’s per 36 minutes stats demonstrate that he is still “elite” despite having 17 seasons under his belt. Duncan’s numbers are not only comparable to the league’s best, but his defense is what separates him. Of all the bigs that I have ahead of him (Love, Griffin, Aldridge, Davis), at this stage of his career, only Davis’ defense is comparable to Duncan’s. Davis led the league in blocks per game last season (2.8 bpg) and is capable of guarding multiple positions with his speed and length.

Duncan is the worst scorer of the group as they all averaged over 20 points in the 36 minutes, but he also takes the least amount of shots. You can argue that Duncan isn’t a top 5 scoring power forward anymore, but he is certainly top five overall. He is a terrific passer, rebounder, and defender.

Love is arguably the best power forward in the game right now, despite not making the playoffs once. Love averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. Love’s shooting ability makes him a nightmare to guard, as he shot 38% from three, ranking in the top 10 in makes.

After Love, there are a few options in Aldridge, Davis, and Griffin. The best scorer of the group is Aldridge, as he averaged 23.2 points and 11.1 rebounds last season. Griffin averaged more points (24.1), but Aldridge is certainly a more skilled scorer, as he uses an array of mid-range jumpers and low post moves to bully defenses. Aldridge’s postseason might give him the edge over the two, as he scored 40 plus points in each of the first two games, against Houston in the first round. Davis is the most complete of the group, as it is easy to see why many compared his game to Duncan. Davis does it all, as he can score, rebound, and defend extremely well.

In terms of power forwards, Duncan might’ve lost a small step, due to his age, but he’s still a top five power forward!

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