5 Milestones Tim Duncan Could Reach in 2015-16 Season


Jan 20, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Duncan is officially returning for his 19th NBA season, and the San Antonio Spurs legend can reach a few milestones in what could be his final campaign.

He already holds the franchise record in a variety of categories, including minutes played, points, field goals made and a couple advanced stats, but Duncan isn’t done etching his name into history.

The veteran will continue stepping out of the spotlight now that LaMarcus Aldridge is coming to town, but Duncan is close to setting new San Antonio records. While he’s virtually a lock to earn the No. 1 spot in two categories, the 39-year-old must sustain his offensive presence to surpass a legendary teammate for one mark.

Plus, Duncan is nearing a couple individual milestones—but in order to reach one of them, the Spurs probably must achieve the success they’re widely expected to attain.

Next: Step Up to the Charity Stripe

Franchise Record: Career Free Throws

Dec 6, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) clutches the ball before the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Of Duncan’s nearly 26,000 career points, 5,804 have come from the free-throw line. That’s currently the second-most in franchise history. It’s also the record Duncan might have the most trouble breaking.

He trails David Robinson by 231 freebies, which means Duncan must convert about three per game to eclipse “The Admiral” at 6,035.

Now, Duncan dropped in exactly 231 during the 2013-14 season, and he followed that up with 230 last year. Consequently, the veteran might come up just short.

But Aldridge’s presence could ultimately lead to a slight increase of free-throw attempts for Duncan. The newly acquired power forward is a decent passer, so if defenses offer too much support, Duncan can find open space on the weak side. A defender’s best option may be to recover and hack Duncan, sending him to the line for a pair.

It won’t be easy, but as long as Duncan’s offensive role doesn’t decrease immensely, he’ll challenge Robinson for the franchise record.

Next: Sustained Offensive Impact

Franchise Record: Career Offensive Win Shares

Apr 2, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) posts up against Golden State Warriors forward Marreese Speights (right) during the second half at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 111-90. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

What are offensive win shares? Basketball-Reference.com defines them as “an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player due to his offense.”

For context, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul led the league with 12.9 last season, but Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol ranked 20th with 5.5 OWS. So, if a player records five offensive win shares, that’s quite a respectable year.

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With 98.4 career OWS, Duncan has averaged 5.5 over 18 years of NBA service for a total of 98.4. Once again, Duncan trails The Admiral for the No. 1 spot in franchise history. This time, however, Robinson only has the edge by 0.1 OWS.

Duncan won’t require much playing time to pass Robinson, and “The Big Fundamental” can join exclusive company when he reaches 100 OWS. Duncan will become the 23rd player to reach that mark, though Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett can hit 100 next season, too.

Additionally, Duncan would become the first player in NBA history to register 100 offensive and defensive win shares in a career.

Next: Duncan, No Swiping!

Individual Milestone: 1,000 Career Steals

Don’t worry, Mr. Robinson, this record is safe—unless Manu Ginobili plays two more seasons, but that’s another story for another day.

Duncan has tallied 978 steals, an average of 0.7 per game throughout 1,331 career contests. His lowest single-season output is 38, so Duncan seems like a lock to nab 22 steals in 2015-16. The 7-footer swiped 63 last year.

He’ll join Robinson, Ginobili, George Gervin, Alvin Robertson and Johnny Moore above the century mark, while Tony Parker (918) could find his way into the group next season, too.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, Duncan will become the 61st forward or center to record 1,000 steals.

Next: Welcome to the Block Party

Franchise Record: Career Blocks

Duncan is the best defender who never hoisted a Defensive Player of the Year trophy. Granted, 15 All-Defensive team honors should speak for themselves. But those accolades are inanimate objects and cannot talk, so…

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Between Duncan’s 100-plus defensive win shares and a stellar 95.6 rating, his presence on that end of the floor is unmistakable. It only seems fitting that he’ll edge Robinson for the franchise’s most blocks.

The center swatted 2,954 shots throughout his 14-year career, but Duncan (2,942) only needs 13 rejections more to pass Robinson.

Duncan blocked 2.0 attempts per contest last season, so barring a severely season-shortening injury, he should own the record before December.

Plus, if Duncan blocks 58 shots and reaches 3,000, he’ll accomplish something only Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Artis Gilmore and Mark Eaton did before him.

Next: A Career Full of Baskets

NBA Milestone: 2,000 Career Field Goals in Playoffs

Apr 26, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) shoots the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Abate-Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio will likely need to reach the second round of the playoffs for this to happen, but there’s little reason the Spurs shouldn’t be a top-three seed in the 2o16 postseason and advance through their first series.

Duncan has buried 1,948 field goals in 241 career playoff appearances. During the last four years of playoffs, he’s averaged exactly 7.0 buckets per outing, so at that pace, Duncan would reach 2,000 career playoff baskets in eight games.

Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan currently sit above Duncan, but he’d probably pass the latter two if San Antonio makes a run to the Western Conference Finals. Duncan is within 100 of both O’Neal (2,041) and Jordan (2,040).

If Duncan doesn’t quite reach this mark, that certainly wouldn’t be disappointing. However, should the Spurs season goes as expected, he shouldn’t have any trouble.

Next: 5 Free Agent Swingmen Spurs Should Pursue