Tim Duncan logs 28 minutes in Spurs win over Orlando
I don’t know what it all means. The Spurs are an offensive machine this season, something we wrote about during preseason play, and Tim Duncan is not the focal point of the offense. Duncan only played 28 minutes against the Magic. A mere 28 minutes in a game someone on Twitter described as NBA Finals level play in mid-November.Â It was a great game, and the Spurs edged the Magic through a furry of perfect play in the final minutes.
But Tim Duncan only playing 28 minutes during an intense, tightly-contested game? That’s new.
Meanwhile, the Spurs haven’t skipped a beat.
Tony Parker is playing better than ever, Manu Ginobili is still an ace, and everyone else on the team, from Matt Bonner to Gary Neal, is playing well. Freaking Tiago “I’ve looked really good when I play” Splitter received a virtual DNP-CD, save for 10 seconds of human foul insulation at the end of the first half. The Spurs have scorers at every position at every moment of every game. It’s a Twilight Zone experience watching the Spurs eclipse 100 points night after night. 100 points is easy for this team.
And Tim Duncan is just cruising. His presence is felt. He makes big plays every contest. His individual defensive stats—steals, blocks, defensive plays, total rebound rate–are at a four-year high while his foul rate is at a four-year low. Good things are happening, and the Spurs are slowly returning to defensive prominence. They’re currently ranked 6th defensively, which isn’t bad for a team that played mediocre defense to start the season and moves at the league’s 7th fastest pace.
Tim Duncan is still very much in the middle of all that. He drives their defensive bus. And offensively? According to John Hollinger’s PER, Duncan is the fourth best center in basketball, and I suspect he’ll move up, rather than down, that list as the season progresses. He’s an All-Star, still.
But the Spurs are off to a franchise best start and their franchise best player has assumed, somewhat shockingly, a supporting role. Tim Duncan’s gone all David Robinson on us, and things look alright. Forget that 12-1 thing. And forget the fact these Spurs have bathed the team’s famous offensive droughts in an ocean of shot making. Tim Duncan’s overnight transformation into basketball’s most effective third wheel is easily the most surprising story in Spursville.