Tim Duncan named to NBA All-Defensive Second Team
The NBA announced on Monday both of the league’s All-Defensive Teams and the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan was named to the Second Team. It was Duncan’s NBA-record 14th selection to one of the All-Defensive teams. TD averaged 9.9 rebounds and 2.65 blocks per game for the Spurs during the regular season.
Somehow, Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol was also named to the second team. Saying that this makes very little sense is a supreme understatement. In fact, Gasol netted the lowest number of total points of all players who were named to either of the All-Defensive teams. LeBron James had the most points.
Had the Bulls’ Joakim Noah and Knicks’ Tyson Chandler not had the same number of points, enabling both of them to be on the All-Defensive First Team, Gasol wouldn’t have been on either roster. This would be a good time to point out that the media votes for Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s 30 head coaches vote for the defensive teams.
If you think this is your opportunity to talk about how the media doesn’t know anything and that Marc Gasol shouldn’t have been named DPOY, realize that Serge Ibaka was named to the first team, ahead of Duncan, Gasol, Larry Sanders and Dwight Howard. Ibaka has great blocks per game numbers and is a good defensive player, but he doesn’t have near the impact of those other guys, in my honest opinion.
It’s often said that the “coaches vote” for these awards are handled younger assistants on the staff, as coaches have more important things to worry about. I don’t know the validity of those rumors, but that’s just what people say.
Back to Duncan. It’s the sixth time that Duncan has made the All-Defensive Second Team in his career. He had what one could call a bounce-back type of season, both defensively and overall. The last couple of seasons it was clear the Spurs big man was slowing down and his production was dipping, but he looked better this season than he had in some time. And the Spurs’ defensive numbers reflected that.
In terms of defensive efficiency, the Spurs went from a middle-of-the-pack team (11th) to the third-best club in the league. Part of it was Gregg Popovich’s commitment to playing Duncan with Tiago Splitter for the first time in Splitter’s career, giving the Spurs one of their best defensive lineups in several seasons. Kawhi Leonard’s development also contributed to the jump.
But the key cog in it all was Duncan. He’s slowed down over the years, even despite being better physically this year than last, but he’s one of the smartest players in the league. Few can match his on-court discipline and knowledge of spacing and angles. If the Spurs win a title this season, or even make the Finals, the team’s improvement defensively will be the primary reason and that starts and ends with Duncan.
Advanced stats info courtesy of NBA.com/Stats