Quantcast
Sunday, October 7th, 2012 at 3:00 pm  |  51 responses

Top 50: Tim Duncan, no. 39

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

The San Antonio Spurs are like Seinfeld reruns. No matter how many times you’ve seen them and know exactly what’s coming, they still get you.

And just like Seinfeld, you have the All-Star cast of four: Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and, of course, Tim Duncan.

On Seinfeld, Elaine, George and Kramer have their moments, but without Jerry, there’s no show. On the Spurs, it’s no different.

Give all the praise you’d like to the other three, but Duncan has been the primary reason for success since the day he was drafted by San Antonio.

Since taking him No. 1 in 1997, the Spurs have made the Playoffs every season.

In a lot of ways, Duncan and Seinfeld are similar. They are clean-cut, consistent, rarely flashy and true to themselves.

Seinfeld obsesses over Superman to this day. Duncan still enjoys a good game of Dungeons and Dragons.

Talk to either, and you would never know both have made hundreds of millions in their career and are considered by some as the best ever at what they do.

In fact, it’s hard to understate just how great Duncan has been. A two-time MVP and four-time NBA champion, Duncan has averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game since entering the League.

Remarkably, his offense actually improved last season. His scoring average went up by two points.

And in an era when superstars hold their own teams hostage every year by bolting small markets for bigger ones, the lack of drama that followed Duncan’s free agency this offseason is refreshing.

“No … I’m not going anywhere,” Duncan told Yahoo! Sports last May. “You can print that wherever you want to. I’m here and I’m a Spur for life.”

His head coach wasn’t stressing about it either.

“I don’t see him not having a future with the franchise,” Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News in June.

After an offseason about nothing, Duncan will be back with the Spurs on a three-year deal that will likely be his last.

So if you never seen the Big Fundamental before or want to see him one last time, get your Spurs tickets soon because unlike Seinfeld, Duncan won’t be in reruns for the next 20 years.

With lackluster NBA Finals against the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers, you won’t be seeing many of his greatest moments on NBA TV either so you better see the power forward in person.

Depending on who you talk to, Duncan is the greatest of all time at his position. Outside of LeBron James, you can’t say that about any other active player.

But it doesn’t end there. Duncan might be the greatest player to spend his whole career with one franchise. He might be the best No. 1 pick of all time. The superlatives and accolades go on and on.

But to sum it all up in Seinfeld fashion, the Spurs chose Duncan first overall in 1997, and yada, yada, yada, now he’s one of the best to ever play the game.


Where should Tim Duncan rank in the SLAMonline Top 50?

Loading ... Loading ...
SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13
43 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 12
42 Al Horford Hawks C 7
41 Ty Lawson Nuggets PG 10
40 Danny Granger Pacers SF 6
39 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 11

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: , , , ,

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    da fuq was he doing at number 6 in 2009?

  • Caboose

    My prediction for Slam’s rankings:
    1. LeBron
    2. Durant
    3. Howard
    4. Kobe
    5. Westbrook
    6. Paul
    7. Deron
    8. Love
    9. Wade
    10. Rondo
    11. Melo
    12. Rose
    13. Bynum
    14. Blake
    15. Josh
    16. Bosh
    17. Pau
    18. Parker
    19. Bosh
    20. Aldridge
    21. Dirk
    22. Kyrie
    23. Ellis
    24. Amare
    25. Joe
    26. Harden
    27. Gay
    28. Nash
    29. Pierce
    30. Cousins
    31. Hibbert
    32. Wall
    33. Gordon
    34. Randolph
    35. Marc
    36. Manu
    37. Curry
    38. Iguodala

  • RedRum

    Duncan is the 3rd best player in the history of the NBA, after MJ and Magic (Chamberlane, Oscar and the rest do not count, they were playing ball in another era where the game was completely different). Look at numbers, look at rings, look the fact that he was the best two-way player the game has ever seen together with MJ and Hakeem, look at who he had to go through in a loaded West to get his rings. If not for the .5 shot and the stupid Ginobili foul on Dirk, TD would have another 2 rings. Most under appreciated player ever.

  • RedRum

    Duncan is the 3rd best player in the history of the NBA, after MJ and Magic (Chamberlane, Oscar and the rest do not count, they were playing ball in another era where the game was completely different). Look at numbers, look at rings, look the fact that he was the best two-way player the game has ever seen together with MJ and Hakeem, look at who he had to go through in a loaded West to get his rings. If not for the .5 shot and the stupid Ginobili foul on Dirk, TD would have another 2 rings. Most under appreciated player ever.

  • RedRum

    Duncan is the 3rd best player in the history of the NBA, after MJ and Magic (Chamberlane, Oscar and the rest do not count, they were playing ball in another era where the game was completely different). Look at numbers, look at rings, look the fact that he was the best two-way player the game has ever seen together with MJ and Hakeem, look at who he had to go through in a loaded West to get his rings. If not for the .5 shot and the stupid Ginobili foul on Dirk, TD would have another 2 rings. Most under appreciated player ever.

  • RedRum

    Just to clarify that Chamberlane, Russel, Oscar and the rest do not count. Of course they were great players, and if you cloned them and brought them in todays game they would probably be better than today’s stars, given their mental toughness. But the game in the 50s, 60s and early 70s was a completely different brand of basketball, no defense was played. Since the 80s defense became more prominent and the game has not changed much, apart from the players’ athleticism.

  • RedRum

    Just to clarify that Chamberlane, Russel, Oscar and the rest do not count. Of course they were great players, and if you cloned them and brought them in todays game they would probably be better than today’s stars, given their mental toughness. But the game in the 50s, 60s and early 70s was a completely different brand of basketball, no defense was played. Since the 80s defense became more prominent and the game has not changed much, apart from the players’ athleticism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    who is Curry at 37? they already ranked him at 47

  • danpowers

    eddie curry lol

  • danpowers

    duncan is like air. nba fans will realize what they are missing when he retires. seeing him having slipped to 39 is just a reminder that his retirement cant be too far away, which makes me kind of sad even though i have never really been a spurs fan.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    It’s very tough to take anyone seriously who says that Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson don’t count and shouldn’t be mentioned when talking about the greatest players to ever play.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    I don’t think they’ll have Westbrook ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul. And maybe not even Wade.

  • danpowers

    i think there should be different categories anyway. you can never compare the greatness of duncan chamberlain shaq abdul-jabbar malone olajuwon etc… with the play of jordan, magic, bryant, west, o. robinson, etc… e.g. if u make the decision for yourself that jordan is the greatest player of all time you could also put duncan or shaq or abdul-jabbar right next to him as the greatest player to play the game. the pivot game is not inferior or superior to the perimeter, it is just a different game and these players affect the success of their teams in different ways.

    id call it a draw btw between abdul-jabbar-duncan and shaq speaking about the greatest big men of all time. then olajuwon and russell. then all the rest

  • Mr. Wet

    ballin.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    You can’t knock a player for playing in a different era. The players who played in the 80s up until now grew up playing a different way than the guys who played in the 50s, 60s and 70s. If a player is the greatest of his era and you’re going to talk about the greatest players ever (which is always objective since there is no concrete list) it’s disrespectful to guys like Wilt, Oscar and Russell to dismiss them simply because they played during a time where the play wasn’t as aggressive or athletic as it is now. You can’t discredit Russell’s championships because of the kind of game they were playing then compared to how they play now. If we’re going to forget about anything that happened during the 50s, 60s and 70s, then we will be disrespecting a lot of legends. Try walking into a room full of Hall of Fame coaches and players and say that Wilt, Oscar and Russell shouldn’t be counted when talking about the best players to ever play and see what kind of reaction you get.

  • NajeetheRipper

    lebron is not the best ever at his position you shithead, have you ever heard of Larry Bird?

  • danpowers

    tell me one thing besides three point shooting (and this also just later in his carreer) that larry bird could do better than lebron james. james is faster, stronger, quicker, bigger with the same courtvision and understanding of the game than bird. just look at the numbers year by year of bird and james during their first years then you see.

  • danpowers

    my rest of the top 50 are
    1 james
    2 durant
    3 paul
    4 howard
    5 wade
    6 bryant
    7 d williams
    8 rondo
    9 anthony
    10 westbrook
    11 bynum
    12 rose
    13 aldrige
    14 b griffin
    15 love
    15 bosh
    16 stoudemire
    17 parker
    18 p gasol
    19 dirk
    20 gay
    21 randolph
    22 irving
    23 pierce
    24 garnett
    25 ellis
    26 gordon
    27 ginobili
    28 nash
    29 j johnson
    30 harden
    31 m gasol
    32 cousins
    33 wall
    34 igoudala
    35 hibbert
    36 bogut
    37 b lopez
    38 chandler

  • uGH

    HEY EVERYBODY MAKES SOME LIIIISTS!

  • http://twitter.com/iskolares Edcel Ceniza

    How many bosh’ play in the league? :D

  • TR

    I feel you man, when i was a kid i hated on the Spurs because they seemed boring, but the older i got, i realized they play some beautiful basketball, especially now days.

  • TR

    Curry’s already on the list, and they lose all credibility if Wall is on it. i hate that DC got him instead of Irving

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Don’t waste your time bro. LeBron will probably be known as one of the top 5 greatest to ever play by anyone with any kind of sense once he’s done playing if he continues on the path he’s on. The question of who is the best SF ever will be easy to answer when he’s done. The man does everything on the court. Plays 4 positions. Guards 4 positions. Best passer in basketball. He scored easily before he even had a consistent jumpshot.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    You can’t really believe that Andrew Bynum is the 11th best player in basketball…

  • Datkid

    No they don’t. Wall is a baller despite how much you hate him.

  • danpowers

    thats the reason why i deleted it. was too much to think about to put em into a reasonable order i leave it up to slam and nbk lol

  • bigA

    “duncan is like air.” Wow, you are dramatic.
    The Spurs really have played some beautiful basketball.
    Seemingly getting a good shot every time making me wonder why not more teams play like that.

  • bigA

    The one thing Bird was better at is late game confidence and decision making. >Other than that, forget about it.

  • bigA

    “If not for the .5 shot and the stupid Ginobili foul on Dirk, TD would have another 2 rings.” Ball dont lie.

  • Okay I will

    1. Michael Jordan
    2. Poo
    3. uGH

  • whooo!

    dude is similar to kg in that you dont see his value in the regular season, but in the playoffs it shocks you how good they still are. Blake Griffin is gonna be ranked in the top 15, and yet nobody can really say he outplayed Duncan in the playoffs. It definitely skews the notion of how valuable TD is when you look at a 39 ranking.

  • Redd

    I was with you until “best pass in basketball”, everything else is more or less right.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    If you’re talking about their careers right now, then no, LeBron James is not the best small forward of all time. And if you want to talk about skillset, Larry was a far better rebounder–I mean it’s not even close. He was also a better FT shooter. And I don’t think you quite appreciate just how good of a passer Larry was.
    He has one more MVP, two more Finals MVPs and two more championships than LeBron right now. Until LeBron surpasses him in those areas then no, he is not the best small forward of *all time.* That’s just disrespectful to Larry. I think LeBron will get there eventually, but as of now, I wouldn’t make that jump.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    I wouldn’t say Larry was a far better rebounder…Larry never averaged more than 11 a game (more like 9 throughout his career) and he spent a lot of time in the paint…Lebron is grabbing 6 or 7 a game when he is out at the wing. Just different types of rebounders…if Lebron played fulltime PF he could easily grab double digits….obviously he was a far superior shooter but as far as passing goes they are both great

  • MrThuper

    Larry averaged 10 rpg for his whole career and was a .406 shooter behind the arc in his first year of pro ball. He won a championship in his second year in the league, while being responsible for the rejuvenation of his franchise since he got drafted. As of right now both LeBron and Larry have the same career averages for steals and blocks: 1.7 and 0.8 respectively. It is true that Lebron is a great athlete, but Larry managed to reach a great level of play without being one. And he played 4 positions as well.

  • danpowers

    like mike gilbert said: james spent more time defending out there on the wing plus rebound numbers in the 80s were a bit inflated by the pace of the game. i dont want to disgrace bird but it is not an insult or disrespect, as great as bird was,to point that out. maybe he wouldve also pulled down 10rpg in todays pace of the game, i just doubt that.

    they are equal in court vision and passing skills. larry was the better shooter, lebron the better overall performer by having a better per. he is also by far more of a winner than people give him credit for when you look at lebron james win shares. one could argue that birds win shares were just lower than james’ because bird had better teammates for most of the time but james win shares are just as high with the heat. yes, larry bird shot 40% from downtown in his first year and then? 27%, 21%, 28%, 24%, then he shot 42% in his 6th year hitting 56 threes at the age of 28. so during the first 6 years lebron james was clearly the better three point shooter. bird turned into a better 3pt shooter later in his carreer. their efg% and ts% are almost even because bird was the better fr shooter.

    so my point was 27 year old lebron james is better than 27 year old bird. he had a much higher per and also bigger win shares. i got much respect and appreciation for larry birds game and was digusted as anybody by james “decision” and behaviour untill the 10-11 campaign but this is just obvious.

    it is hard to compare players who play in different times tho because nobody knows how good bird would have been with the training methods of today or how good or bad james would have been with the training methods and style of play from back then. but just by the numbers that determine a players overall output and winshares james at his age is better than bird was that point.

  • danpowers

    in the 80s the game was played at a much higher pace, defenses were less efficient and the overall level of athleticism was lower. you have to consider that when you bring up these numbers. larry was great, no doubt. but look at 27 yr old bird and 27 yr old james. sorry but bird is second to james. if james gets hurt now and stops doing what he does bird will be remembered as the games best 4 / 5 shooting big man, small forward, stretch 4, however you call him. but so far it looks like lebron james is about to take his place in league history as the games greatest sf of all time. at least at this time of their carreers.

  • danpowers

    james “choked” in one finals series. look at his clutch stats, he is better than people give him credit for just because he plays under a microscope with higher expectations on him than on anybody else in the league. james led a totally untalented cavaliers team to the finals when he was 22. how to you get to the finals as the no.1, no.2 and no3. option on offense in one person at the age of 22 if you are not clutch? people forget so fast and just see what they want to see. and i aint even a james fan, actually many people called me a james hater since the decision incident but facts are facts and respect should be given out where it is deserved.

  • http://twitter.com/MisterBucketz Mitya Ya

    A bit too heavy on Seinfeld references there.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Who makes better passes than he does? At worst, he’s equal with Steve Nash.

  • Redd

    Steve Nash, Rondo, Rubio come to mind.

  • Redd

    Steve Nash, Rondo, Rubio come to mind.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    where you been? — Curry already went btw.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    where you been? — Curry already went btw.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    @disqus_pjIQMFNqgq:disqus i had Bynum 14th. i have seen people have him as high as 9th

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    @disqus_pjIQMFNqgq:disqus i had Bynum 14th. i have seen people have him as high as 9th

  • danpowers

    yup, he should be a 20-10 log minimum

  • LakeShow

    I heard of a guy named Chris Paul in LA and some Deron Williams cat also…

  • black pinoy

    would you rather be a GM of an 80′s team with bird as your star player or a GM of a 2010′s team and have lebron as your star player.they are both great players of two different eras but bird didnt dominate the 80s the way lebron is dominating the nba.. im not a lebron fan but he is the best small forward of all time!!! lets not argue who is the better 3pt shooter, passer, defender etc etc. Who would you choose lebron or bird??!!! (btw, bird was playing with other allstars and a good coach during his second year)

  • benin

    no fucking respect for the spurs. they will probably not win next year but still a shame…

  • christian wells

    awesome write up mostly because of the seinfeld comparisons and references(BEST SITCOM EVER) I more a fan of flashy wing players but i’ve always been a fan of tim duncans game even though i’m not a fan of the spurs

Advertisement