NBA, The NBA's 30 Best Go-To Players / Nov 17, 2010 / 12:30 pm

Ranking the NBA’s 30 Go-To Guys (#10: Tim Duncan)

Who do you want your offense to run through with the game on the line? Counting down from 30th to 1st (one per team), I’ve ranked the League’s go-to guys…

TIM DUNCAN, San Antonio Spurs
You know how I know Duncan is old? Justifying his spot as a Top-10 clutch performer in the NBA isn’t as tough as justifying his spot as the No. 1 option on the Spurs.

The descent really began in 2007. San Antonio’s championship series win over the Cavs was nothing out of the ordinary. Even the four-game sweep wasn’t too far off-script. But then Tony Parker won the Finals MVP award that seemed reserved for Duncan. Not such a big deal in the grand scheme — Joe Dumars, James Worthy and Cedric Maxwell own Finals MVP trophies from teams that clearly read “Isiah,” “Magic” and “Larry” on the label — but that was also Duncan’s last actual 20-and-10 season. His minutes, points, and rebounds have gradually decreased since then. Then playoff exits in ’08, ’09 and 2010 highlighted just how important Parker, Manu Ginobili and Fill-In-The-Small-Forward were to the Spurs’ process, and suddenly — while he still had occasional moments like the 22-and-21 stat line in a must-win Game 3 in the ’08 Western Conference Finals, or the overtime-forcing three against Phoenix — Duncan didn’t seem as dominant anymore.

This year, it’s even tougher to definitively declare Duncan the Spurs’ go-to guy. His 13.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game put him statistically closer to Elton Brand than Pau Gasol, while Parker and Ginobili have been producing the standout numbers. In fact, Duncan is only the fourth-leading scorer on his team, as Richard Jefferson has also put up more points. And if Matt Bonner keeps dropping threes at an 80-percent clip, he might even surpass Duncan on the stat sheet.

So how does Duncan hold claim to this spot? Because the Spurs offense still runs through him in crunch-time. Because he’s still the unquestioned leader in the huddle. Because when they really need him, he delivers. Case in point: His 25-point, 17-rebound, 3-block, 11-for-13 from the field effort against the Suns in a two-point win earlier this month.

At this stage of his career, Duncan is a playoff player. He’s more Mariano Rivera than C.C. Sabathia. The regular season is about seeding, not proving anything. Parker and Ginobili can carry the first eight innings, but the ninth still belongs to the Big Sandman.

*** *** ***

11. Brandon Roy (Trail Blazers)
12. Joe Johnson (Hawks)
13. Derrick Rose (Bulls)
14. Tyreke Evans (Kings)
15. Vince Carter (Magic)
16. Gilbert Arenas (Wizards)
17. Amar’e Stoudemire (Knicks)
18. Monta Ellis (Warriors)
19. Danny Granger (Pacers)
20. John Salmons (Bucks)
21. Rudy Gay (Grizzlies)
22. Stephen Jackson (Bobcats)
23. Baron Davis (Clippers)
24. Ben Gordon (Pistons)
25. Andre Iguodala (76ers)
26. Yao Ming (Rockets)
27. Mo Williams (Cavaliers)
28. Brook Lopez (Nets)
29. Andrea Bargnani (Raptors)
30. Michael Beasley (Timberwolves)

-Follow Austin on Twitter at @AustinBurton206
-Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag
-Become a fan of Dime on Facebook HERE

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • BRUCE

    Timmy should be higher. His signature of the glass bank shot is one of the best moves in the history of the NBA. It is a simple shot but a reliable one. It is a thing of beauty.

  • Michorizo

    The ladies are saying Tony Parker is the go to guy in San Antonio these days…

  • Ian

    “So how does Duncan hold claim to this spot? Because the Spurs offense still runs through him in crunch-time. Because he’s still the unquestioned leader in the huddle. Because when they really need him, he delivers. Case in point: His 25-point, 17-rebound, 3-block, 11-for-13 from the field effort against the Suns in a two-point win earlier this month.”

    eh no austin you havent seen a spurs game in a while. manu is the spurs go to guy in crunch time you had to single out the one great game he had this season manu has been doing it in all of them. oh and ten is too low for either manu or duncan.

  • Duncanrules

    I remember in the playoffs last year in the Mavs series (I can’t recall which game exactly). Anytime the Mavs were making runs to comeback, Timmy would stop them cold with a couple hooks and bankers. Hopefully he still has that mentality come playoff time, but I think the pressure for him is definitely decreasing, which is not bad. RJ’s channeling his inner Ray Allen, TP and Manu are a devastating backcourt, we’ve got 2 improving young vets in Blair and Hill, and 3 rookies with huge upside potential (Neil, Splitter, and Anderson). The team’s deep and they together should be able to get the job done, and not just solely rely on 21 all the time.

  • nizzio

    Manu is the go-to-guy. He sinks the clutch free throws and plays amazing defense. He has ice in his veins. TD has a reliable jumper and plays decent D but his time is up

  • http://www.mmajunkie.com rangerjohn

    i have to agree with ian, manu is and has been the go to guy for the last few seasons. the ball is ALWAYS put in manus hands, case in point the bucket to push over time against the rockets. the spurs didnt even remotely look to duncan it was all manu.

  • Rummmd

    As great as Duncan is Manu was rated statistically going into the 2009 as THE MOST CLUTCH* NBA player by nba.com and it was not even close over some you would have thought, like one Kobe Bryant. Glad both Duncan and Manu are on the Spurs but it is more often per other posts the ball is in the hands of the most under-rated SG in the game.

    http://www.nba.com/2009/news/features/john_schuhmann/11/05/clutch.numbersgame/index.html

  • BostonGuy

    How is Tim a “Go To Guy” when he doesn’t play and San Antonio’s 8-1 record has nothing to do with him.

    Duncan doesn’t even play the 2nd half of many of these close games that San Antonio have won during their 6 game streak.

    I know why you put him here. But you really need to have another person from San Antoni, unless TD is purely Ceremonial and for Old Time sakes.

  • Ian

    rummd
    the thing is they show kobe hitting one of the thousands of bad shots he takes a million times on espn and the people that dont really watch the games get confused.

  • Duncanrules

    He was pretty essential in the Chicago win tonight.