How Unprecedented Is Tim Duncan's Continued Efficiency?
Tim Duncan is going to be back for this upcoming NBA season. How long he'll play after that, we don't know. Does it really matter?
Duncan is one of, if not the, best power forwards we've seen over the last 20 years and maybe even all-time.
That will most likely be up for debate for many years to come. Something that isn't up for debate? Duncan's agelessness.
From 2000 to 2015, Duncan has amassed a total nERD of 188.4 and averaged a nERD of 11.8 each season. nERD indicates how many wins above or below .500 a player would make an average team during a full season. To help put that into perspective, Kobe Bryant, a player of the same generation, has totaled a nERD score of 143.4 with an average of 9.0 over the past 15 seasons.
Now Kobe, in 2005-06, earned a nERD of 18.7 -- the highest of his career. That's really impressive and all, but the Big Fundamental had two seasons (2001 and 2002) with a nERD of at least 18.7. He maxed out with a nERD of 20.7 in his fifth season in the league.
So why am I comparing Kobe, a shooting guard, to Duncan, a power forward?
Because, unlike Kobe, Duncan has and is still doing his thing after 18 seasons in the league. Kobe has been riddled recently by both team breakups and unfortunate injuries. At 37 years old, he's no longer the Kobe we once knew.
Tim Duncan isn't the same dominant big man we saw in '01 and '02 but, like I said, Old Man Riverwalk's still doing his thing at 39 years old.
Here's a list of 38-year-olds who played at least 2,000 minutes in a season since 2000.
And that's it.
Including Duncan, there have only been seven players with such seasons. And not surprisingly Timmy D is at the top of that list -- just edging out John Stockton for the single best nERD of any 38-year-old in the past 15 seasons.
Will we see a dropoff though in the upcoming season?
This chart indicates that we might. There's only been five seasons in the past 15 where a player has played more than 2,000 minutes at the age of 39. Only four posted a positive nERD (two of them from those ridiculous Jazz teams) and none of them reached the heights that Duncan reached last season.
But this is Tim Duncan we're talking about. Throw in the fact that he now has LaMarcus Aldridge flanking him in the frontcourt and I can't bet against him. I'd expect Duncan to continue the same efficient game we've seen from him since as far back as we can remember.