This is the fourth part of a five-part series debating the All-Time Starting 5 for the San Antonio Spurs. Previously, we have discussed why Tony Parker, George Gervin and eventually Kawhi Leonard are my choices for point guard, shooting guard and small forward. Today we discuss who the Spurs greatest power forward is. It is, of course, Matt Bonner.
Just kidding. The answer to who the greatest Spurs power forward ever is also the answer most give when asked who the greatest power forward of any team, all-time is. And that is Tim Duncan. I’m hoping I don’t need to spend any time defending this choice against other power forwards in Spurs history, so I’m going to spend the remainder of this column examining what makes Duncan so great.
First off, Duncan’s career is a remarkable example of unparalleled consistency and success. Over a 16-year career, Duncan has averaged 20.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg, and 2.2 bpg. He has approached or surpassed these numbers every season of his career, remaining incredibly productive as he plays fewer minutes in the later stages of his career. As his career has progressed, Duncan has refined and polished his skills, compensating any losses of athleticism with his tremendous basketball IQ. He is a force offensively with a solid mid-range jumper, impeccable footwork and a wide array of post moves. Defensively, Duncan is the anchor to what is always one of the best defensive teams in the league, has the most career postseason blocks of all-time and, again, is incredibly smart. He is a solid rebounder, a great passer (his outlet passes are a work of art) and a great leader. When Duncan is at his best, he is the best player on both ends of the floor, something that can be said of only a few players in NBA history.
The individual accolades speak for themselves. Duncan is a two-time league MVP, three-time Finals MVP, 14-time all-star, 10-time All-NBA first team member, 8-time All-NBA defensive first team member and a four-time NBA champion. Wow.
Perhaps most importantly, Duncan is a flat out winner. We tend to equate success with winning, especially when discussing the NBA, and Duncan is one of the best all-time at it. Since he entered the league in 1997, the Spurs have had the highest winning percentage in all of North American professional sports and have won at least 50 games every single season (save a lockout-shortened 1999 season where they went 37-13). They have made the playoffs for 16-straight years. Duncan has led the Spurs to four titles, and, of course, just narrowly missed a fifth. As doubters continue to wait for the Spurs and Duncan’s inevitable decline, a realization has set in: the Spurs will remain contenders for as long as Duncan plays because he is a flat out winner.
So there you have it, Tim Duncan’s greatness in a nutshell. Of course, this article alone does not do his incredible career justice; I couldn’t achieve that in a hundred articles, let alone one. But hopefully it is enough to persuade you that he is not only the greatest Spurs power forward of all time, but also the greatest power forward period.