Sunday, October 10th, 2010 at 8:00 am  |  125 responses

Top 50: Tim Duncan, no. 14

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Dennis Tarwood / @tuffyr

Think about the last time you drove to work. What did you notice?

Yes yes; there was a convenience store on the left 15 minutes into the drive. The red light at 5th Ave. caught you like it always does. You parked in the same spot you usually take.

But that’s what you expected to happen. What did you actually nTim Duncanotice?

You were thinking about your 11 a.m. conference call or that you forgot your packed lunch at home. Perhaps, if you’re of a certain age and disposition, you squinted your eyes and rubbed your temple to try to shake the hangover.

You didn’t notice anything during the drive, though. You anticipated the parts of the drive and moved on when they occurred. You might have seen them, but you didn’t notice them.

And so it is with Tim Duncan. Last season, you saw Tony Parker collapse under the long-term fatigue of a professional playing career, at least for one year. You saw Richard Jefferson completely fail at being Richard Jefferson and it stuck in your craw. You saw George Hill and Garrett Temple and then saw them for what they actually were.

They were new. Or, if they weren’t new, they weren’t acting the same. You made the green light on 5th. You noticed. Not so for Timmy.

There he is, setting up on the right block after two shoves to his defender with that elongated right arm extended to the sky, parrying a hapless defender with the left elbow. There he is, one dribble and then two. Step over, shoot, score. Shuffle downcourt.

There he is on the left block, executing the same move in a mirror. Step over, shoot, score. Shuffle downcourt.

Now he’s back on defense, undermining his opponent’s center of gravity with his knees and that massive base as counterweight. Never having the skill to leap out of the gym, he doesn’t leave the ground for the first nor the second pump fake. Tim Duncan waits.

Help doesn’t come. Help doesn’t have to come. The Merlin Wall has been erected. None shall pass, except perhaps his opponent. Force them to settle for an outside shot. Shuffle downcourt.

The only change you might have noticed in the last few years is on the help defense. Tony Parker has undoubtedly noticed. His way to work has dramatically altered on the defensive end without Duncan to bail him out. Fewer blocks lead to more drives. Not a million: just more. It might even be unnoticeable if you haven’t looked up recently.

Otherwise, Tim Duncan is unchanged. He still has those sharp elbows. He still holds the same disdain for the media. (Even in an otherwise-empty locker room, claustrophobia sets in when approaching him.) He still harbors the same smart and silly sense of humor when surrounded by his inner circle.

And so we take him for granted. General managers drop him down their ranking. SLAMonline drops him down their ranking. He grows older. Slower. (Though, since he didn’t start out blazingly fast, he didn’t have to find an old man’s game at 29; it was already present and accounted for.)

This season, tap the brakes at least once and notice Tim Duncan. There will be fewer opportunities to do so, assuming Tiago Splitter pans out as Spanish gold and DeJuan Blair continues to mock human physiology. Gregg Popovich will follow through on his plan to play Duncan less nightly and fewer nights overall, nursing him to June for the last two seasons of his contract.

After the 2012 season ends, Tim Duncan will be 36 years old with four or more rings to his credit and possibly zero interest in chasing any other career totals. He says he’ll “play until the wheels fall off“, but who knows when that will happen?

Perhaps he’ll take the opportunity to retire and open a swimming pool just outside San Antonio. Or maybe he’ll tour with the Renaissance faire, winning jousts daily because no one can knock him off his massive base.

And you? You’ll be driving to work and notice briefly that the convenience store went under over the weekend. You went in that store once when you forgot donuts for a meeting. It was a good store, you’ll think.

And then you’ll drive on and you won’t notice again.

Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 10 9
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 9 8
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 8 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 7 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR
Stephen Curry Warriors PG 35 NR 10 NR
David Lee Warriors PF 34 NR 10 NR
Brook Lopez Nets C 33 NR 2 NR
Gerald Wallace Bobcats SF 32 NR 7 NR
Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 31 29 6 7
Tony Parker Spurs PG 30 15 9 3
Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 29 13 9 3
Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 28 44 6 9
Josh Smith Hawks PF 27 40 8 13
Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 26 26 5 6
Al Jefferson Jazz PF 25 23 7 7
Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 24 NR 8 NR
Chauncey Billups Nuggets PG 23 19 7 5
Tyreke Evans Kings PG 22 NR 6 NR
Danny Granger Pacers SF 21 21 5 5
Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 20 32 6 9
Paul Pierce Celtics SF 19 17 4 4
Joe Johnson Hawks SG 18 20 4 4
Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 17 27 5 8
Amar’e Stoudemire Knicks PF 16 16 5 6
Steve Nash Suns PG 15 22 4 6
Tim Duncan Spurs PF 14 6 4 1

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • Avery

    maybe not no.1 nowadays, but among all the players in this ranking, surely the best ever…

  • KB8toSG8

    A legend. Always a joy watching him. His last season was just as productive as his others and hopefully it continues that way. Go Tim!

  • Overtime

    He’s still top ten to me. Best PF of all time, just a legend, a class act.
    What does annoy me though, is just how much his legacy would be improved if Derek Fisher hadnt hit that 0.4 shot.
    The shot that Duncan hit just before was off the charts, wayyyy off the charts. If that had been the game winner, it would add so much more to the legacy. And its totally possible to think the Spurs would have gone past the Lakers and maybe even taken Detroit

  • http://123@yahoo.cn effie

    Duncan is far more batter than Bosh.

  • Ronald

    Hmmmmm…You guys have D-Rose over Tim Duncan? Seriously?

  • reflex

    Yeh Ronald so far they have Rose over Nash, Duncan & Rondo. Incredible.

  • JTaylor21

    Best PF of all-time NAH, it’s a four man race between KG/TD/CB34/Malone. Still duncan is still one of the best post players in the league today and continues to perform at a higher offensive level than DHow.

  • Brandon

    I am new to this site, but I have had enough of the Derrick Rose hating on this forum. I will start by saying I am from chicago, but I still have enough sense and objectivity on this particular subject. I understand some of your concerns regarding Derrick Rose, but I also know the criteria for these rankings are for the upcoming season. So, when the comments section saying how he will be better than Nash or Rondo. I will explain how. First, he has much more talent around him i.e Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Brewer etc. He can legitimately average 24pts, 4-5reb, and 8 assists based on talent around him alone. If you fully take that in consideration and everything in Chicago is based around his individual talents, you can surely see why the slam writers have him ranked this high. These rankings are not based on career stats or I would clearly agree with you all. I also take constructive criticism very well so if you disagree I understand as well. But, based off his experience in the playoffs that he achieved in the Cleveland series it’s not hard to imagine to see him explode in his 3rd year in the NBA.

  • Furious

    hahahahaha JTaylor bosh has no business being in that conversation.

  • Furious

    oh crap now i look like an idiot. ignore that comment. my bad.

  • Furious

    oh bugger now i look like an idiot. ignore that last comment. my bad.

  • Furious

    sorry posted twice cos i didnt come up. man im not having a good day

  • JD

    I’m not detracting from Derrick Rose’s game at all i’ve never read anyone on this site hating him, but i definetly agree that Duncan is probably better than at this point maybe not at this time next year,however. I would probably say the same about Chris Bosh

  • http://www.twitter.com/hurstySYD Hursty

    Who’s most important to their team and its success? Rondo, Nash, Timmy, Bosh or Rose?
    When it comes down to these spots I feel like it becomes a bigger part of criteria than purely statistics. Take each of those players off their respective squads and… Bosh? Er, no.
    The difference between Rose and Rondo is not a huge leap, like having a rating of 92 vs 94, but it’s there. Duncan is crucial to the Spurs because they have no other interior scoring/defense/anything. And cos he’s, ya know, Tim Duncan. Nash was more valuable last year, coming into the season. Goran was awful as a rookie. Dragic will take a whole bunch of pressure off him during the season.
    Oh, and ‘age shall not weary them’.
    I’d have it like this – From least to most – Bosh, Nash, Rose, Rondo, Timmy.

  • KB8toSG8


    I hope he means Charles Barkely for his sake. :|


    I think Duncan has done enough to be the best PF ever. Just like Kobe was criticized for not winning enough when compared with Jordan, the same should apply to both Malone and Duncan. So off they go. KG…….nope. He is a great defensive anchor but Duncan was and still is more consistent and more durable and more dependable. Also the fact that he has a few Finals MVPs as well ( Honestly though, Pierce’s finals MVP was the most undeserving I’ve ever seen, on par with Nash’s 2nd MVP. That should’ve been Garnett’s.) Duncan has a combination of stats and hardware that the others’ can’t compare to. And another thing, do you ever not take a shot at someone else who is being praised other than LeBron? Coz all I’ve seen is whining that LeBron this, LeBron that on LeBron-Kobe and rest of the guys’ articles and X isn’t better than Y,Z,A,B etc. on articles that pertain to player X……..

  • KB8toSG8


    Nobody hates Rose around here. They only start making fun of him when others bring him into the best PG discussion which is laughable. And Bosh will NEVER be as good as Duncan. NEVER. Hell, he doesn’t even have a good post game!! Lopez seems to be the kind of guy who can follow Duncan’s footsteps. Has strong fundamentals and isn’t too flashy as well.

  • Fat Lever

    I thought this was the best write up on a player to this point. Excellent job Dennis.

  • Ken

    Very nicely written. Maybe the best piece so far in the top 50.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Duncan right now honestly is still ahead of Chris Bosh. What makes Bosh better now? I would probably only take Pau over Duncan right now, and perhaps Luis Scola on account of him playing so well for the last year or two.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Whoa. Waitaminute. 3 spots left at the PF rankings. That’s Dirk, Bosh and Gasol, right? So does that mean Luis Scola isn’t even on this list?? Tough crowd at the PF positions here, but Scola was the best player outside of KD at the recent championships, right? Kevin Love is also absent, but he’ll probably be on this list for the next decade so that’s cool.

  • Overtime

    @Jtaylor, there can be a very strong argument made for Malone and Barkley, I just personally take Duncan.

    @Joel, I’d never take Scola over Duncan, but he should definitely be on this list

  • Anthony

    JTaylor, you really think CB or KG are in the same league as Duncan ? What are you smoking daily seriously ? Even Jerry Sloan is saying Duncan is the best PF of all time.

  • Karl

    Well I’ve always thought that KG was definitely in Duncan’s league. He just never had the supporting cast or coaching that TD had.

  • ripslam

    Hmmmm…I don’t know if he should still be this high, definitely top 20 but no. 14, I dunno. Also, the people that think Scola should be on this list because he looked good on a freaking FIBA team are making me laugh.

  • add

    no offense to tim but i think rondo might be a little better

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=BEZ&clubcode=PAN&seasoncode=e2010 ANTONIS FOTSIS

    Hey, where is ANNA….??? In Turkey to play for a team that is not even in the Euroleague…???!!!!! Unbeliavable…..

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=BEZ&clubcode=PAN&seasoncode=e2010 ANTONIS FOTSIS

    So, that means that SCOLA is making the top-13….after the way he destroyed again the competition in the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP this summer it is reasonable to be rated that high. He is definitely top-5 big man in the world at the moment.

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=BEZ&clubcode=PAN&seasoncode=e2010 ANTONIS FOTSIS

    So, that means that SCOLA is making the top-13….after the way he destroyed again the competition in the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP this summer it is reasonable to be rated that high. He is definitely top-5 big man in the world at the moment…

  • http://www.springbored.net letsmotor

    damn, bosh ahead of duncan just doesn’t make sense, and i like bosh.

  • Overtime

    and then Antonis came along and destroyed the conversation

    Cosign Letsmotor

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=BEZ&clubcode=PAN&seasoncode=e2010 ANTONIS FOTSIS

    At this moment (and last year also): BOSH>DUNCAN>HOWARD.

  • Blackphantom

    Hell no TD is not the greatest PF of all-time, Top 5 yes, Greatest, no

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=BEZ&clubcode=PAN&seasoncode=e2010 ANTONIS FOTSIS

    We are getting close to the moment where the best big man in the world for the last 3 years is going to ranked under a guy that 1)doesn’t have even half his comlpete bball game/understanding 2) [this is the funniest], a guy that he has COMPLETELY DESTROYED wherever he has faced him. Ladies and gents we present you “WHERE PAU IS RANKED UNDER ‘SUPER GUFFY’ HOWARD HAPPENS” !!!! This is the moments that we are living for here, unintentional comedy at its finest!!!!

  • Tony

    I hope D-Will breaks top ten

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    Timmy´s a legend, good spot for him, WOW, Rose´s even higher then I though he´d be by SLAM´s standards,this is getting out of control

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear


  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    With all due respect.

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=BEZ&clubcode=PAN&seasoncode=e2010 ANTONIS FOTSIS

    @Teddy…….:D.ROSE is expected to be really “PRODUCTIVE” this year!!!(ha,ha,ha, “where bball players became factory workers judged by the number of units they produce and the salaries they make!!!!!!” )

  • http://www.springbored.net letsmotor

    consign trailblazing and teddy a thousand times over.

  • Elvis Freshly

    Slam… Tim is NOT ahead of Amare, point blank.

  • whoooo!

    i can accept Duncan’s slowing down as the reason he’s ranked this low, especially if his minutes are limited. remember, his MVP years were 8 years ago. i don’t think Bosh is better this year though. Gasol right now is the best pf in the game.

  • whoooo!

    i can accept Duncan’s slowing down as the reason he’s ranked this low, especially if his minutes are limited. remember, his MVP years were 8 years ago. i don’t think Bosh is better this year though. Gasol right now is the best pf in the game.

  • whoooo!

    that said, what are y’all smoking to say he’s “top 5 pf all time.” 13 years in the league, and this is what he’s done: 13 all-nba selections (9 first-team), 13 all-defensive selections (8 first team), 13 seasons of 50+ wins, back-to-back MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs, and 4 rings. greatest pf of all time, it’s not even a question.

  • http://shinefluidpt2@aol.com CHICAGO SAID IT YUP

    bring on the D.ROSE haters!! we luv it. for somebody who barely ever says 2 words he sure has alot of fans/haters

  • PDC

    Rose over Nash and Duncan is a crime in my country.


  • PDC

    And Bosh over Tim Duncan another crime.

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=BEZ&clubcode=PAN&seasoncode=e2010 ANTONIS FOTSIS

    howard>gasol is what in your country…???

  • ai come back

    yo brandon im from chi town too and cmon man tim duncan is better than derrick rose right now rajon rondo is better than derrick rose right now steve nash is better than derrick rose right now, notice how i said right now? nash can literally score whenever he want take more to his body(all tough team on nba.com/derrick rose has not taken an elbow in the eye by tim duncan) nash can do more with less, tim duncan is arguably the greatest pf of all time like ppl were sayin whos more crucial to their teams sucess? d rose makes a dif. but take out nash take out duncan what happens?

  • http://www.nba.com jessdogg

    Saying that Tim Duncan is not the greatest power forward of all time would have to be words of a borderline retard. Too me its almost like when people try and argue that someone, anyone, is better then Michael Jordan. Karl Malone was unlucky he played in the Michael Jordan era but even with 2 or 3 rings its not even close.

  • gilford

    So Derrick “The second coming of Steve Francis” Rose is higher than Nash and Duncan?

  • Furious

    OK people, enough about Tim Duncan. I don’t understand why nobody’s talking about Derrick Rose!

  • http://www.springbored.net letsmotor

    cosign whooooo, although I still might take Duncan over Gasol because of Timmy’s defense (not saying Gasol’s a bad defender though). but really, I would love to hear from someone who thinks that someone besides Duncan is the best PF of all time. I mean, there are a bunch of guys I’d put up there with him (Malone, KG, Barkley, McHale, to name some), but it’s pretty clear to me that Duncan’s the best.

  • TrailBlazing&SportingLisbon

    Duncan da best big foward of all time but today Gasol´s number 1, only guy who can guard D12 1on1( like Perkins) AND SCORE ON HIM

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    i think you all need to read Brandon’s 10:48 comment.
    and dennis, this was a dope read. my favorite of the top 50 so far. great job!

  • haslem

    Tim Ducan is one of the top ten players of all time

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Yao Ming does a better job of guarding D12 and scoring on him.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    *Than Gasol.

  • Harry Twatter

    Dam it actually feels good to have so many Derrick Rose haters on here. I mean think about it. The only people that can get this much hate is Kobe, Lebron and now yup Derrick Rose. That would be a hell of a 123 punch. I sort of feel like some people just sit here and cant wait to hate on Rose. I even see people lie like their from Chicago LOL. So we got Rose at the PG Kobe at The SG Lebron at the SF who else is hated on so much? we need a PF and a C to complete our dominate hated on roster. I BET 90% of the hate is coming from Boston. LOL Rajon Rondo created 12 accounts.

  • Harry Twatter

    Anybody that wouldn’t choose a 21 year old Rose over a 40 year old Nash (without Amare) and Duncan (health issues) automatically takes nut to the throat from sucking way too much veteran d$*k!!!

  • KB8toSG8

    @Harry Twatter

    I’d suggest you give it a rest. Rose will get his due soon enough. But why start hating on Duncan? Amare>Duncan? NY fans seem to be too delusional. Amare can’t even play a lick of defense to save himself and needs a great pick and roll PG to be effective. Nash is a better passer than Rose. I think we can all agree on that. And he has a wonderful consistent outside shot which is essential. Rose is better than Nash defensively, I admit. But Nash has a more complete game on the other side of the court. Its effective as well. But I’d rather select Rose for personal reasons though :P . BOSH<<<<Duncan. He doesn’t even have a post game dammit! He isn’t a franchise player. Hell, his on ball defense ain’t as good as Duncan’s as well! The ONLY player who is better than Duncan right now at PF is Pau Gasol.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Karl Malone is the greatest small forward of all time. I don’t care if about the rings, I can state stats that show Ginobli and Parker played hugher roles that what people give them credit for. Tim was good, but Malone could do it all. Jazz should have won one title, but the team was very unlucky, playing against the Bulls, then against the upstart Lakers. If Malone had one or two rings he would be consider better. Also Tim is not number 14 no more, this list is projected on his stats for next year, not who is better. Tim will have another down year, like last year. Watching spurs games, was like watching a dead man walking. So this list is supposed to be based on projected stats for next year, not a player who had a great career. Based off of projections for next year, Rose should be above him. Not who is better. Also some of yall need to dust off some old Karl Malone tapes and see that he was way better than what people give him credit for.

    * Scoring: Malone averaged 25 points per game. Duncan 21.1.
    * Efficiency: Malone shot 51.6% from the floor and 74.2% from the line. Duncan’s respective numbers; 50.8% and 68.7%.
    * Reliability: Malone’s work ethic and incredible conditioning was legendary and that shows in the numbers. He played in 99.3% of the Jazz possible games during his 18 year career in Utah . Duncan so far with San Antonio has only played in 94.5% of the possible games. Over an 82 game NBA season that means that Malone would play in about 4 more games than Duncan.
    * Longevity: The same conditioning led him to be able to play for so long at such a high level. Not to say that Duncan can’t do that, but let’s see if he is still playing as effectively as Malone was when he was 39 and still contributed 11.1 wins (10th in the league) to the 2002-2003 Jazz team.
    * Front line help – Sure this is a little subjective, but I think that playing with the Greg Ostertags and Felton Spencers of the world didn’t help Malone quite as much as playing along side David Robinson helped Duncan.
    Duncan is great, but really if you could start a team, would you want a prime Malone or prime Duncan. Also only thing Duncan has is rings, but base it off of game, because Malone is 2nd all time in career points. I would take Malone. BOOK IT!!

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    ^^^Malone is greatest power forward of all time!!!

  • KB8toSG8

    @The Seed

    Duncan played with a declining Robinson. No offence. I think championships are important. No matter who it is. Do you seriously think Elgin, West, Big O and others wouldn’t be like at the top every time (they didn’t even have a 3pt line back then and still got 27-30pts!!!!) if they had won more rings? Malone didn’t even win 1 ring. As much as I like him, I can’t overlook all of Duncan’s MVPs and rings to award him that.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    I guess the main thing is that if this is going to be based on this coming season; I would have swapped the order of amare nash and t dunc. I can see amare getting the ball so much more with NYK. I’m sure this season will be a big dub dub season for him. Sure tim duncan is awesome for all the comments that have been mentioned, but this is meant to be a list of the top 50 players of next season.

  • bashmo

    okkk….Derrick Rose over Timmy?? Come on Slam. Where will Chris Paul be? Top 6-7 HE BETTERRR

  • Shan

    yup called it..Duncan at 14. Next is Rose or Brandon Roy

  • Shan

    Top ten goes like this: Dirk, DWill, Melo, Paul, Gasol, Dwight, Kobe, Wade, Durant, LeBron.

  • KB8toSG8

    @Shan:Now really??? Wade ove Kobe? LeBron over Durant? Top 10: Dirk, Pau, DWill, Melo, Paul, Dwight, Wade, LeBron, Kobe, Durant.

  • JTaylor21

    People that disagree with KG and CB34 being in the GPFOAT convo are out of their minds. For chuck to put up 23,000+ pts, 12,500+ rbs and shot 54% at 6-6 has to be one of the greatest feats in sports history. KG during his prime Min years was putting up numbers that no one in history done, consistently 23/12/5 with 50FG% and was one of the if not the BEST player in the league from 02-05. TD is an all-time great but is not the clear cut GPFOAT because Malone/KG/CB34 all have a say.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    I’m one of the biggest Derrick Rose fans on the planet, and I’m loving all this hate he’s getting too. That being said…Rose cannot be in the top 10. He just can’t. Yet. And I gotta agree with my boy JTaylor21, KG in his prime was SICK. Come on now, who else averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists for SIX seasons in a row?….I’ll wait. He HAS to be considered as one of the greatest PF’s of all time. My personal all-time top 5 are 5. Kevin McHale 4. Charles Barkley, 3. Kevin Garnett, 2. Tim Duncan and 1. Karl Malone. Most have Malone over Duncan, but not me. Personal choice.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    1. Duncan 2. Malone 3. Barkley 4. Garnett 5. McHale
    For now… It’s a toss-up between Barks and Garns, I can’t decide who’s better. Although, Garnett wipes the floor with Barkley’s defense.

  • Dagger

    To put it simply:

    Duncan in his prime: one of the best scoring big man to ever play, great rebounder, good passer, great shot blocker, truly exceptional defender, and incredibly clutch (averages go way up in postseason, and lots of memorable clutch buckets).

    The other PF’s all have their flaws. Barkley was a slightly better rebounder than Duncan, but neither he nor Malone defended at anything near the level of Duncan. Garnett was great – a better passer and man-to-man defender – but he’s just not clutch at all. Put it all together, throw on the MVP’s and championships, and is it really a debate?

  • KB8toSG8


    You pretty much sum it all up.

  • Ronald

    Sigh, Chuck can’t be better than Duncan for the spot of greatest PF of all time, because Chuck himself has called Tim Duncan the best PF of all time and admitted that Tim was better than he ever was.

  • itiswhatitis

    i used to hate timmy but now a days he is pretty cool

  • JTaylor21

    Yeah sure like CB34 is really going to say that he’s the GPFOAT, if he does that people are going to call him selfish and arrogant. It’s the same way that Magic and Bird claim that MJ’s better than them even though deep down inside none of them believe that sh*t. It’s called POLITICS.

  • Ronald

    Yeah, sure. ‘Cause Chuck is infamous for being mindful of what he says and giving canned comments. /s

  • Anthony

    Duncan has more rings than KG, CB and Malone combined . I respect their games a lot but they cant touch Duncan’s greatness. Malone was a better scorer but Tim has always been team oriented, he didnt care about scoring or stats, still he puts up unbelievable numbers. And defensively he was way above Chuck or Malone, nobody can deny that.

  • Anthony

    And also, @TheSeed, please stop smoking.

  • KB8toSG8

    What Seed said is pretty much valid……until the issue of championships and MVPs comes to the forefront…. :|

  • Morgan

    The only debate among those power forwards is whether Malone or Garnett was less clutch.

  • Furious

    that last comment was me. i have no idea why it came up as ‘morgan’

  • JoeMaMa

    Tim Duncan is the greatest PF of all time. Anyone who’s played basketball, is a student of the game, and who can dissect the game dispassionately knows that. Tim Duncan may be the soundest player, fundamentally speaking, most of us have ever seen. He’s been winning since he’s been in the league. 4 championships as THE MAN. I’m not going to talk about the other PFs in contention; that’s pointless. Duncan’s the best. Respect the FOUR rings.

  • KB8toSG8

    @JoeMaMa….Garnett never had the help he was promised. If he did though….someone who could help him out consistently, I think Garnett’s legacy could’ve ended differently. Another reason why I hate the Timberwolves so much!

  • Shan

    Yup, Wade over Kobe, remember these rankings are for next season’s projections and Kobe will start slow due to his injuries, impacting his overall year. Wade will undoubtedly outperform the aging and injured Kobe at the SG position. Kobe is pushing 36, 000 career minutes. I dont buy that crap about DWade being any less of a player with LB on his team…Durant and LB at 1 and 2 could be flipped but we know that in the end, they are the 1 and 2 in the league. Kobe is the best up until the beginning of the season but he will never be the best player after this year.

  • Morgan

    I think when he eventually retires they shouldn’t just retire his number, but also name the Backboards at the AT&T Center: “Tim” and “Duncan”. I have never seen someone use the bank shot so consistantly well. Top PF of all time no doubt…people seem to miss the fact that Malone had Stockton (who was one of the best PGs in the NBA) and still couldn’t win a ring. TD should be top 25 every year until he retires.

  • Ouse


  • BBaller

    I’m glad to see the NBA looking so healthy and abundant in talent, 13 players ranked above a legend like Tim is a promising sign for the up coming season.As a spurs fan Tim Duncan is always 2nd on any list i do, only behind Dave Robinson who is my personal GOAT( i know not yours ).But with Duncan, he has always performed at the highest level and i thank the basketball gods for Duncan’s unique ability to put that ball in the basket when we desperately needed. Tim is the greatest Power Forward of all time, of course. 14 maybe fitting for this current season, but these rankings are strange, KG at 29 did it for me.

  • BBaller

    In regards to all of those who’s the greatest at which Position debates, the PF position i think is the clearest, with Duncan being the obvious choice at number one.He was number one on the Spurs ( i hate to say that ) rosters that won those 4 rings and is just a better player than Malone. The greatest Small Forward is the hard one! No it’s not Larry.

  • Anthony

    @BBaller, the SG position seems pretty clear for me too

  • Pingback: SLAM ONLINE | » Top 50: Chris Bosh, no. 13

  • Armando

    I’d take TD over Bosh short term. They will probably put up similar stats this season, so despite all his moronic contributions to the debate Fotsis has a point with the factory worker comparison. Bosh’s skill level won’t regress because he is going to play with Wade and James. So if he puts up something like 17-18ppg and 9 rebs, it doesn’t mean he’s a worse player than he was in Toronto putting up 23 and 10. Top 10 PF’s of all time is difficult given that I only started watching in the early 90′s and was probably not able to objectively analyse the skills before way later. Thus the only measuring stick is stats, which are far from a reliable way to rank how good players are or were. Nevertheless, in my opinion the top 10 the last 20 years: 1. Duncan 2. Malone 3. Barkley 4. Garnett 5. Nowitzki 6. Webber 7. Kemp 8. Rodman 9. Coleman. All time, in no particular order, the candidates I guess would be: Duncan, Malone, McHale, Barkley, Pettit, Hayes, Schayes, Lucas, Garnett, DeBusschere, Nowitzki…

  • Armando

    10. Pau Gasol. Unless Rose really impresses this year a top 13 rank is to high. IMO, top 10:
    1. Bryant, still a killer who is the best at winning when it’s important, which is the most important thing in basketball.
    2. James, most skilled physically and arguably technically, but not the winner Bryant is (for now).
    3. Wade
    4. Durant
    5. Howard
    6. Williams
    7. Paul
    8. Gasol (tie)
    8. Nowitzki (tie)
    10. Anthony

  • Armando

    By winner I don’t necessarily mean that a player with a ring automatically is better than one without. But I mean by being a player that can will his team to the win, who does whatever it takes for the team to win and is able to do it. Historically only a handful of players belong in this category: Jordan, Russell, Bird, Duncan, Bryant, Olajuwon, O’Neal, Robertson, Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Chamberlain)

  • Harry Twatter

    @ The Seed I SECOND YOUR LAST COUPLE POSTS!!!! To many fools here are looking at Duncan and Nash’s entire career stats and base who’s better off of that. I would choose Rose and Bosh today over Nash and Duncan 9 games out of 10. First of who will stop Rose?

  • whoooo!

    like Ronald said, when Barkley, as opinionated as he is, says “Tim Duncan is the greatest PF of all time”, that means A LOT. if a player doesn’t even believe he’s better than his next contender, how on earth can you claim he’s the greater player?….. also, compared to Malone, remember that Duncan’s stats all go up in the playoffs – it’s a given. the biggest thing is, he takes over to win games in ways Malone wasn’t able to. i remember him hanging 37 & 16 to blow out LA in ’03 in game 6, and of course he had his 20/20/10/8 closeout against the Nets. yes, he outmatched K-Mart/Deke, but he took advantage of his mismatch like he should’ve. even against the Pistons in ’05, when everyone questioned his rocky series, he took over in game 7, against the best defending frontline in recent memory (Ben/Sheed/Dyess). got them in foul trouble, exploited the mistmach vs Tayshaun, and then found wide open shooters when they started collapsing/triple teaming. he’s a winner, flat out.

  • http://theurbangriot.com The Nupe

    This is a decent spot for TD. As far as the debate of who’s the greatest PF ever, I’d have to say Elvin Hayes. If you don’t know who he is, look him up. TD, Mchale are the next level down along with Malone followed by Chuck.

  • unrel

    good read.. Timmy is the best PF of all time.. period.. we can all debate over skills, etc.. but he’s had the most successful career of all PFs that are up for debate..

  • TheTruth

    Man you guys are ridiculous. Every Nba legend says Tim Duncan is the greatest PF ever. You’ll only find 1 out of 50 nba players, hall of famers, past or present coaches, or retired players who say Duncan isn’t the greatest. And Duncan still the best PF in the league. Gasol’s overrated, Dirk always chokes, Kg use to rely on his athleticism and speed but that’s pretty much gone, Bosh doesn’t have leadership, and Amare has yet to prove what he can do in the Nba as the ‘man’ on a team.

  • http://sdklff.com Jukai

    Oh oh oh oh!!! Are we doing a Greatest PF list? I love lists!
    1. Tim Duncan – He’s got the skills… solid offensive force with lots of post moves and range… amazing rebounder… great passer… perhaps the BEST DEFENSIVE FOUR OF ALL TIME (yeah I went there). He has the longevity, four rings as the leader through several supporting cast changes. Easily the greatest, and probably the BEST too (although there can be an argument made for Malone as best. I usually just consider skill for best).
    2. Karl Malone – Amazing offensive, amazing rebounding, no one gives him credit for his passing. Best pick-and-pop four of all time, but he could score pretty much anyway facing the basket and great at banging down low; not to mention great hands to pretty much finish anything given to him! Defense was alright, nothing spectacular but solid enough. No rings, but three finals appearances and 20-some years in the NBA make up for that somewhat. Don’t know how much of Malone was Stockton, but since we can never know, I never discount it. Awful in the clutch, but that’s sort of a power forward’s MO.
    3. Kevin Garnett – Massively varied offensive skillset although he doesn’t often use them. Most range out of the power forward list. His assist numbers are often overlooked, but they’re the best on this list. Super great rebounder, and probably the only defender who can match KD. I know he wasn’t on the level of Barkley at CB’s height, but I think KG’s ring and his longevity place him slightly above Barkley, not to mention the defense that Barkley refused to play. Another clutchless power forward.
    4. Charles Barkley – Unlimited offense. Played offense like a three with slashing and rebounding but could also bang with the trees. Ludicrous rebounding, great passing, zeroooooo defense. Sort of faded fast thanks to lack of conditioning, but he was probably on par with Malone and Tim Duncan at his height.
    5. Kevin McHale – The most post moves out of anyone on this list, with great range and great hands to finish just about anything. It should be noted he was never the center of attention for the defense on the other teams. Great rebounder and fantastic defender but often times didn’t get the whole “passing” thing. Kevin McHale makes it in the top-5 because of his rings, but his career wasn’t particularly long and while his height was AMAZING, it took him several years to reach that status. Surprisingly clutch for a power forward.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    Cosign whooo! Timmy was a BEAST, still very good now. Will put up 18 10 in his sleep. …….. No doubt tim is the best pf ever, top 20 center ever too.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I agree with Jukai’s list. Defense is what puts Garnett over Barkley.

  • xplor

    TIM LOWER THAN BOSH? THAT’S NOT RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The Fresh Prince of Nsam

    Good write-up Dennis and Jukai 4:07, I like ur list and ur arguments.

  • BBaller

    I would like to know who Shaq thinks is better? Tim or Kevin? I can remember when interviewed in the locker room he said ” this is the greatest front-line of all time ” when he lined up with TD and KG in the 2001 All Star game.Those 3 at their primes, maybe not the most odd thing to come out of Shaq’s mouth. The outside shooting would take a hit but if they were the big three on a team week in week out damn it would of been hard to get an easy lay up against them.Scary on defense.Throw a good 3 point shooter in and i could have run the point.I’m dreaming now i’ll stop

  • BBaller

    Just a suggestion for SLAM, for next year can you do a top 50 by position ie C, PF, SF, SG,PG x 10 spots. I have always preferred to compare players in their defined roles that they master over a career rather than to rank a guard over a center when a guard’s required strengths and supposed weaknesses are different to a Centers.Howard is an Obviously more effective shot blocker than Kobe but Kobe is a far superior perimeter defender so depending on the in game scenario (a) down by 2 (b)down by 3, who would you prefer or use? The opposing team would adjust their strategy accordingly and whether Howard or Kobe strengths would become more relevant. This list is about how much a player will affect his team and have the biggest impact on their teams success this season so like i said before Tim is properly placed by this method, if you took Dirk out of Dallas their fortunes would be altered more so i can accept Dirk above Tim Duncan but not for Bosh who will be 14/12/1.5( stellar) in Miami but is not as important to Miami’s success as Tim is to S.A. At 36 Tim Duncan is still a better player( in a play off game) than those two.

  • BBaller

    To clear that up, If the Spurs lose to Miami it would be because of Wade and Lebron, not Bosh, Duncan will handle, but if the Spurs lose to Dallas then it usually is because of that tall German pulling a 36 and 10.

  • Luiyo

    I have to admit that I used to hate Duncan, but that was because of the TD vs. KG comparison when they were in their prime. I’m the biggest KG fan, and I know I may be a little biased, but I respect the hell out of TD know. My point is that I always had wonder what would happened if Timmy and Kid changed teams on their primes… Think about it, TD in Minny and KG in SA, maybe the winning and awards advantage will be on DA KID side. Don’t believe me? Think about all the good teams that Duncan was part of, he played with Robinson (who was fading, but what a better veteran big man to learn from?), Johnson(future coach, great lider), Ginobili, Parker, one of the beast coaches in th league (Popovich), great organization… Now think about the Wolves, idiotic management, only ONE decent team in all his years with them (Cassell & Spree, and quickly made a deep run in the playoffs), an averaged coach and always delivered the better numbers of the two and make it to the playoffs with the least… If we trade them, maybe Duncan was the one always getting out of the first round everytime and Garnett getting the recognition and awards for winning…. What you think? I know that doesn’t change nothing but, it makes for a good argument that for me personally, Garnett has always been on Duncan shadow, for things out of his hands

  • BBaller

    KG’s first 3 years in the league were out of his control but when Minny offered one of the biggest sports contracts ever, KG chose to take the money and stay while also limiting Minny’s ability to sign other marquee players becoz of the salary cap.So only KG can say whether the money was worth those later years of disappointment at Minny.The question of whether KG would have won more with better players is answered by his success at Boston but of course you win more with more, anyone does.TD could have gone to Orlando or Boston, but decided to stay with the Spurs so he deserves some credit for that aswell as making personal financial sacrifices to accommodate teammates. Sorry I’m biased too but TD is the winner. Both Awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com B-Moore

    I think it needs to be said that if it weren’t for a certain player named Michael Jordan.. Malone would have had a ring..

    Malone = Better than Duncan.. But mad love for Timmy D.

  • Luiyo

    @BBaller good point and I respect that… I was just wondering, how he would be judge today… because of all the elite PF of all-time (Duncan, Malone, Barkley, McHale) he was the only one without a good team in his prime

  • BBaller

    @ B-Moore , Malone could of, should of won in 99, 00, 01,02 or 03 when Jordan was gone but he didn’t or couldn’t and Tim did. And TD won without a PG like Stockton to boot( Avery was good but not a general like Stockton).Which is a major reason Malone put up better scoring figures than Duncan, but in every other department Tim was better than Malone.My personal top 5 PF ever, players i would pay to see, 1. Tim Duncan 2. S. Kemp ( there is currently no one who can eat the rim like Kemp did )3. C. Webber 4. C. Barkley 5. K. Garnett .The most effective top 5 PF i believe are 1. TD 2. K.Malone 3.K. Garnett 4. Dennis Rodman 5. C.Barkley

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    I always wonder what if timmy didnt spend so many years in college. Who had no 1 pick in 95? Where would ai have gone at no2 in 96?……… .. .. Also, spurs were very close to titles in 04 & 06. Would have been tied with la in 08 if it werent for the president of the ‘i hate duncan and spurs club’ joey crawford. But, timmy still won 4 rings. One of best defenders of all time, top 3 easy.

  • AJ

    You know what makes somebody great at basketball? Of course not, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. The most important thing is not winning championships if you want be considered the greatest but the role you played when winning or at the very least competing for championships.

    For example, MJ is the greatest because nobody could shut him down in the playoffs. He cropped on magic, dumps, clyde, miller, stark, payton, and any one else who stood in his way. On other words, he want the best player on the floor in the playoffs that year. So it figures he got 6 finals mvps in his 6 trips there. Even Kobe knows this. That is why he threatened to leave la after Shaq wrapped up 3 finals mvps in a row……

    And Tim Duncan is in the same class a MJ because he couldn’t be stopped by any body on his way to the rings. He schooled Marcus Camby, Shaq, Horry, Sheed, Ben, Gasol, Webber, Amare, Shareef, K-Mart, Dikembe, Dirk, Damper, zone d, nobody to this date has shut down timmy in the playoffs except tony parker who Tim allowed to take the finals mvp trophy because for timmy, abusing varejao and illgiskas was not a something he needed to do because just like Shaq let wade get a finals mvp timmy does the same for his young guy. Give the man some props even though he never asks for it.

    Karl Malone was always shut down in the postseason some way or another. Whether it was Dennis rodman, luv longley, or Brian grant and Sheed. If MJ was the only obstacle standing in his way, how come Karl couldn’t take even take his team to the finals after MJs retirement? Simply because anybody could shut him down in a playoff series if they had to.

    Some people say Karl has better stats than Tim. True. But no please compare postseason stats. Yeah, the only ones that ever matter.

    Karl Malone like Amare have no inside game unless someone feeds them off a pick and role. TIM has the best back to the basket game other than Wilt. TIM in general is only second to the dream when it comes to post moves and that is without any gift of any quickness at all. When Karl had his back to the basket…..MJ came around and asked him what u doing boy and he replied nothing and let MJ take the rock and seal his fate forever as always second best. peace.

  • AJ

    So in the history of the game, only Wilt, and Kareem dominated the game in the post as much as Duncan did. And those guys are centers who got way more shit opportunities than Timmy. Let this issue rest in peace and I don’t wanna hear about that softie in la who has supposedly caught up to timmy now that timmy is 35 and he is 29. And Timmy is still better playing 30 minutes being the 3rs option on his team than softie playing 40 minutes as the #2 option.

  • Anthony

    co-sign AJ, nothing else to add.

  • BBaller

    Very well put AJ, that reminded me, Tim Duncan sure has faced many battles over his career against some quality opposition.I think he went to the same school as Shaq though the others mentioned were definite students.

  • smooth

    i believe that tim duncan is still a top ten this year. this article is very true tim never stops doing his thing awsome player but boring to watch

  • AJ

    People are such hypocrites. Mark Jackson or some former baller said lebron should not have left Cleveland because if he won even one championship in that small market it would equal three in the large Miami market. Hmmm. Very interesting. There is a man by the name of TIM Duncan who also plays in a small market. He won 4 rings there. So by Mark Jacksons math….let’s see 4 x 3 is 12. So Timmy has the lebron James equivalent of 12 rings. And bron has the bron equivalent of 0. But why will Lebron….change that……why do only lebrons, kobes, carters, mcgradys, wades, birds, magics, Oscar Robinsons, jerry wests, and bob couseys have the right to be involved in the greatest player of all time talk? Why a man like Wilt who scores 100, Bill Russell who has 12 rings, Bill Walton if he never got hurt, all time leading scorer Kareem, Olajuwon with his guard like quickness, Shaq with his pure dominance for a decade plus some, five tool player KG, TIM “nothing else needs to be said” Duncan get in that discussion? Let’s explore…..with as many ring as Bill Russell has, how come nobody gives him his dues? Heck even Bill Russell who won his 12 rings in Boston doesn’t get his dues. Still all you hear is tony parker, bob cousey, heck even may near Eva longoria. But you don’t hear TIM Duncan nor Bill Russel nor Wilt but you do hear jerry west. Big men no matter what they accomplish get the recognition they deserve. I have nothing against guards but other than MJ every major superstar guard player with an equally superstar big. West had Wilt. Cousey had Russell. Bird had McHale and Parish. Magic had Kareem and Worthy. Kobe had Shaq. Wade had Shaq. Pierce has KG. The best big man MJ ever played alongside in his whole nbatv career was Dennis rodman. The point is people remember the flash (guards) but forget the substance (bigs).

  • AJ

    So Shaq is really saying something when he says he doesn’t compete with guards because they take 30 shots a game. He only competes against other bigs. It’s Shaqs way of acknowleding that if a big scores a 100 and a small scores 81, the 81 is celebrated more due to the guard bias over the bigs. That’s why David Robinson 71 is something that people beloved only happened in the matrix along with the Wilt 100. But the MJ 63….or was it 69…..that will live on forever.

  • jakenobili

    in an interview of Kareem here in the Philippines, he said he wants to play one-on-one against TD.. that’s how the legends respect a fellow legend.

    a lot of ballers rely in their hops, and thinks that a dunk is the only way to score. they tend to skip the Basketball Fundamentals Lesson.
    TD mastered none other than the BASICS.
    the footwork, the hook shot, the signature BANK SHOT, the outstretched-arm layup, and even 3-pointers (when game is on the line against the suns on a Playoff game)

    TD is the definition of Consistency and Efficiency at the hardcourt.

  • Tommy

    way to high.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jtrain73 Jono

    Maybe abit high. But for sentimental reaons, let him be and stop bashing. Best PF of all time.

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