The Sixers are set to finish what has felt like an endless road trip, ending in San Antonio with their annual visit with the Spurs. San Antonio has long been all about team, but there’s a certain 36-year-old center at the heart of what they do. In what feels like his 50th season (it’s only his 15th), Tim Duncan is doing some remarkable things.
The 36-Year-Old Machine
Duncan sits in the top-10 of our nERD rankings, by far the oldest among the top 20 players. His win shares per 48 minutes are the highest they’ve been since 2007, when he was a 30-year-old spring chicken. Defying logic, his block and steal percentages are both at career highs and his effective field goal percentage is right on par with some of his best years. And he’s doing all this while registering just his sixth season with a PER of 25 or better.
Some credit is due to Gregg Popovich, master of managing minutes and angering David Stern. Duncan has played 30 or more minutes in only 20 of the Spurs’ 35 games. But even when he cracks that 30 minutes barrier (his average for the season), Duncan doesn’t slow down. He’s averaging 20.6 points, 11.8 boards and 2.75 blocks in those games, and the Spurs have gone 15-5 when he registers those minutes.
In home games, Duncan’s net rating is off-the-charts good. With an offensive rating of 113.3 and a defensive rating of 94, the Big Fundamental’s net of 19.3 is well above his season number of 12. Additionally, Duncan’s plus/minus rating in home games is second in the league. He trails only Kevin Durant, posting a whopping +165.
We might not get to watch Duncan for much longer, so the time is now to appreciate what this future Hall of Famer is doing in the twilight of his career.