The Tim Duncan Throwback Tour continued on Saturday with perhaps his finest show yet.
Continuing to power through his 16th season, Duncan recorded his first 20-point half since 2004 en route to 27 while pulling down 15 rebounds in the Spurs' 99-95 overtime victory over Memphis. It was even more impressive considering the Grizzlies entered with the second-best defense in the league by Basketball Reference's unit ratings.
With more than three quarters of the season remaining, a slowdown seems almost inevitable. But right now, Duncan is on pace to record not only perhaps the finest season of his career, but the finest season of any 36-year-old in NBA history. The accompanying table illustrates how he measures up with a selection of other Hall of Fame big men who were still playing at 36. Or rather, how they measure up with him.
To put his performance into further perspective, consider that at least nine players who would have been included were already retired at 36: Yao Ming (30); George Mikan (31); Bob Pettit (32); Bill Russell (34); Dave Cowens (34); Bob Lanier (35); Kevin McHale (35); Nate Thurmond (35); and Walt Bellamy (35).
To be fair, Duncan is blessed to play in an era where medical advances are extending athletic careers like never before. But he's also done his part by keeping himself in spectacular shape and developing a wide array of skills that have allowed him to offset the ravages of time while continuing to drop jaws with plays like this.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich scoffs at the notion that Duncan is enjoying a resurgence, saying that he's doing what he's always done, i.e. dominate. It's an attempt to compliment Duncan and his remarkable consistency, but in actuality he's doing his star player a disservice.
Two seasons after appearing to have begun his decline in 2010-11 at 34, Duncan is currently registering career-highs in Player Efficiency Rating, win shares per 48 minutes, true shooting percentage, steal percentage, turnover percentage and offensive rating.
Tim Duncan at 36 — a statistical perspective
San Antonio Express-News | Dec 3