It Only Gets More Fundamental

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What does a player with 4 NBA Championships, 3 NBA Finals MVPs, 2 Regular Season MVPs, 9 All NBA First Team and 3 All NBA Second Team selections do in his 12th season in the Association?  How about get better?  Well, that’s exactly what Tim Duncan has done.  Certainly, the Spurs are not the juggernaut they once were.  That can be chalked up to injury, age, questionable management, and the improvement of the rest of the Western Conference over the past half decade.  One thing that cannot be blamed is the play of Duncan.  Amazingly, in his 12th NBA season, Duncan’s per minute numbers exceed his career averages in seven categories.  While he is playing the fewest minutes per game of his career, he is posting numbers that are as good as ever.

It’s a stifling data set.  Analysis literally puts you in amazement of The Big Fundamental.  His 52% FG percentage is the second highest of his career.  His 75% FT percentage is the second highest of his career.  His 1.79 turnovers per game is the lowest of his career.  And then, there are his per minute numbers.  He is above his career per minute averages in offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, assists, and points.  He is averaging his fewest fouls per game and per minute ever.  Player Efficiency Rating backs up his performance.  He is third in the league, behind only LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

And so the bear says, "you don't come here for the hunting, do you?"

So how is he doing it?  The 32 minutes per game that he plays are keeping his legs fresh, and the wear and tear down.  At the same time, they keep his fouls and turnovers to a minimum.  But there is more than simple math going on.  Duncan has improved his jump shooting substantially.  What used to be the weakest part of his offensive arsenal has become his most dangerous weapon.  Pick and pop has saved him punishment and proved a potent option for the Spurs.  Meanwhile, he has used his spare energy crashing the offensive and defensive boards with vigor.

Watching Duncan play this season is an exhibition in fluidity, a display of ease that comes only with familiarity.  The soundest player, and one of the smartest is getting more efficient over time, not less.  The right pass has never been quicker.  The intuition for the rebound has never been so accurate.  His stroke has never been so effortless.  Given the way most big men decline at this point in their career, Duncan’s current output is truly amazing.  It appears that the best player of the previous decade has plenty left to show us in this new one.

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2 Responses to “It Only Gets More Fundamental”

  1. jpalumbo Says:

    Do French people get the hunter and the bear joke?

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