The San Antonio Spurs are-yet again- surprising practically everyone with their 14-4 record. Gregg Popovich has, seemingly on a dime, switched the emphasis on Spurs basketball from that boring, lamentable half-court offense to what it’s been the past couple of seasons: an enviable mix of three pointers, open-court plays, and fast paced action.
Leading the Spurs in their annual splash through the fountain of youth is Tim Duncan. The Spurs’ talismanic forward is putting together a season unlike any we’ve seen. The raw figures, to this point in the season: 18.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.4 bpg. In case you somehow aren’t blown away by any of that, here’s another number: 36, the exact amount of years that Duncan has spent walking god’s green earth.
You can fog and you can wipe all you like, your lenses are reading that just fine. Tim Duncan is now 36 years old, 15 of which were spent competing in the world’s top basketball league while accruing the above mentioned statistics.
As for Duncan’s season being unprecedented:
“By modern statistical measures, he is in the nascent throes of the top age-36 season in NBA history, his 27.6 player-efficiency rating challenged only by the 27.1 Karl Malone rang up with Utah in 1999-2000.”
–Via Spurs Nation Blog
When was the last time you were discussing the greatest power forwards of all time and you were forced to dismiss Karl Malone as the next best thing?
Duncan’s efficiency is staggering, like most of his other stats, when you put it up next to his age and imagine the wear and tear.
Speaking of which, Duncan has been seeing an uptick in his on-court duties over the past couple of seasons. As he gets older, the Spurs’ forward seems to be playing even more. This year, Duncan’s averaging 31.6 minutes of game time per contest. His usage rate has seen a bump from the last two seasons (22.9% and 26.22%, respectively), coming in at 26.55% this season.
Duncan’s handling the ball better as well. Even with his usage rate and minutes increasing, he’s coughing the ball up a career low 1.5 times per game. His free throw percentage is at a career high right now, standing at 76% so far. In fact, Duncan is even averaging more free throws taken this year (5.4 per game) than over his past 4 seasons combined (4.7).
He’s collecting a steal per game, also a career high. He’s averaging 2.4 blocks per contest, his highest mark since 2007. The list goes on and on, and I could go on and on describing it.
But let’s end with a reminder.
Lest we find ourselves regrettably sleeping on Duncan’s (and hell, the Spurs’) unquestionable status as an NBA elite, watch this.
Serge Ibaka made a mistake. Consider it a warning. Much like Ibaka’s shot blocking prowess, we are spoiled by the NBA’s consistently awe-inspiring crop of young talent.
Also much like Ibaka, we should be very careful when even thinking about sleeping on Duncan. Believe me, underestimating Duncan, or putting a clock on him, comes with little more compensation than harshness and a hash-tag:
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Nearly all stats are credited to Hoopdata or Basketball-Reference.
Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim