As far as the greats are concerned, Tim Duncan will go down as one of the greatest to play the game of basketball. He is arguably the best power forward ever to play in the NBA, depending on whom you ask. But lately, it looks like father time is catching up with the 37-year-old and it may be time for the San Antonio Spurs to part ways with the big man.
Since David Robinson passed him the torch in 1997, Duncan has been the face of the Spurs’ organization. The Rookie Of The Year in the 1997-98 season was the only Spurs’ player to start all 82 games that year. Duncan has brought three NBA championships to the city of San Antonio while claiming the MVP award in each series. His calm and cool demeanor is a great representation of the city in which he resides, and Duncan has expressed his desire to finish his career in the Alamo City.
However, numbers never lie and it is time the Spurs faced the truth.
In the last two seasons, Duncan has missed a total of 37 regular season games. His minutes have steadily gone down due to a variety of reasons such as his age and nagging injuries to his feet. Gregg Popovich has made a noticeable change in his strategy and has drawn up the offense to run through Tony Parker instead of Duncan. In the 2009-10 season, Duncan attempted 1082 field goals. In the following season, he only attempted 838 shots, with 105 fewer attempts in the season after that.
For the first time in his career, Duncan averaged single-digit rebounds for three consecutive seasons beginning in 2010. This year, Duncan is barely above the double-digit rebounding mark with 10.0 boards per game. His 15.4 points per game production is tied for an all-time career low, and his field goal attempts per game are the second-lowest they have ever been.
With the horde of injuries that the Spurs have had to endure this season, the unfortunate pressure has taken its toll on the veteran post player. The lack of pieces around Duncan has put him out of position defensively, causing him to foul out twice this season. Prior to those two games, Duncan had not fouled out in over four years.
As the trade deadline approaches, the Spurs would be smart to shop Duncan around to acquire players that could better fit the circumstances. Most teams would be willing to give up some quality players to land the “Big Fundamental” on their squad. Regardless of whatever the next move is for the organization, it is apparent that Duncan’s time is running out.