Yes, you read it correctly. Tim Duncan dropped from last year’s No. 22 spot to No. 28 on the #SLAMTop50. But before you decide anything, know exactly what the whole objective of this list is about. And after you’ve asked question after question regarding Tim Duncan, don’t leave out one of the most important ones:
Can he do it again?
This is what basketball fans around the world want the answer to when Tim Duncan comes to mind. At age 38, with five Championships under his belt, the thought of winning back-to-back titles and making history seems like the perfect basketball-story ending for Timmy to finish his career with and leave his stamp on the NBA.
And, after all, if San Antonio plays the way they did when they dominated the ex-Big Three and the Miami Heat last year in the NBA Finals, then a chance to repeat might in fact just happen for the veteran squad.
One thing is certain: You’d be a fool to overlook the Spurs this season like critics have done so in the past. The “they’re too old” comments are invalid now. The Spurs’ style continues to be the same year after year. It hasn’t changed and probably won’t ever. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But regardless of the way it’s done, they play fundamentally sound—boring and not “cool” to many—and the way they execute the game of basketball every time they hit the floor is beautiful.
Although they won’t be as electrifying—highlight wise—as LeBron and Co. will be like in Cleveland this season or even Oklahoma City, they’ve showed that with their ability and experience they could hang easily with the top-caliber teams of the League.
The Spurs start this upcoming season with the same core of guys and a few additions. Tony Parker will still be running the pack and give buckets to every guard in the League. If Manu Ginobili can stay healthy, everyone knows what he’s capable of bringing to the table. Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard showed his progression last season and how much of an asset he could be to the team on both ends of the floor.
Cory Joseph will play more minutes due to Patty Mills’ rotator cuff injury that has him missing part of the season. Rookie Kyle Anderson is playing the little brother role and will absorb as much knowledge until his number is called; Danny Green, Marco Belinelli and the rest of the bench all return to their respected roles. Oh, and that power forward they call the Big Fundamental who rocks No. 21 and contemplated returning for his 18th season in the L, will lace up his adidas and Punisher knee brace for what seems to be like the last time this season.
And speaking of the Punisher—also known as Duncan’s favorite Marvel character—the longtime fan will be featured on the upcoming comic book cover this month.
In an interview with David Letterman in the summer, Duncan spoke about still having some playing time left in the tank: “I thought about calling it a year and calling it a career,” he said. “But I felt I could at least do one more year. I felt I was still effective. I felt I could play and help the team.”
It’s obvious how efficient and effective Duncan can (and will be) in the Spurs’ road to six if he can keep his numbers similar to last seasons (15.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg and 1.9 bpg). But, hypothetically speaking, if the Spurs don’t end up repeating this year and Duncan retires with five rings, nothing is at loss for him. Luckily, for him, he isn’t in the same battle that Kobe Bryant is in with Michael Jordan if Bryant doesn’t end his career with six or more Championships. Getting number six only adds to Duncan’s repertoire.
We all get another year to see Timmy in action—his baseline spin move off defenders, his incredible ability to pass and knock down that top-of-the-key jump shot, his leadership, competitiveness and desire to go out and give it his all night in and night out, and most importantly, that face-up jab-step bank shot he’s had on lock throughout his career.
Despite the outcome, Duncan’s on the verge of breaking 25,000 career points, 14,000 rebounds, 4,000 assists and nearly 3,000 blocks and is considered pound-for-pound the best power forward to ever do it.
History is waiting to be made. Go get ‘em, Timmy.
|#SLAMTop50 Players 2014|
Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’14-15—to players’ team, the NBA and the game.