All-Star / Feb 8, 2011 / 4:00 pm

Duncan deserves his All-Star spot

Tim Duncan (photo. Mannion)

On his way to four NBA championships, three Finals MVPs and two league MVPs, Tim Duncan has become fairly adept at good timing. He’s the 7-footer who steps out and hits a three-pointer when his team needs a trey. He’s the alleged slowpoke who darts across the lane like a jaguar and blocks a shot when his team needs a stop. He’s the star who plays his best in the biggest games — like posting 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 blocks in a decisive Game Six of the NBA Finals.

So when Duncan was named to his 13th All-Star Game last week amidst cries of “snub” for Western Conference counterparts LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love (later named an injury replacement), Zach Randolph and Lamar Odom, you figured he would use his next timely opportunity — i.e., a game against the Lakers on national TV the same night as the All-Star announcement — to silence any doubts that he should be headed to the midseason showcase.

That didn’t happen. While the Spurs won the game, Duncan had a modest 8 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. He shot 3-for-12 from the field, including missing a fadeaway jumper on the last possession that Antonio McDyess tipped in at the buzzer to save San Antonio.

It got worse after that, as the other All-Star snubs responded with glittering stat lines. Z-Bo hung 22 points and 17 boards on Houston, while Aldridge scored a career-high 42 points against Chicago. Odom, meanwhile, posted a 20-point, 20-rebound line two days before All-Star reserves were named. By now, the sentiment has become clear from Portland to Memphis: Duncan only got in on reputation and doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star.

But he does. And not on some lifetime-achievement, thanks-for-the-memories, one-more-for-the-road farewell gift. Duncan is still one of the 12 best players in the West, and one of the most valuable players in the League this season.

The Spurs have the best record in the NBA at 42-8, six and a half games ahead of the Mavericks. Duncan is their on-court lynchpin, off-court leader, and still the key that makes the San Antonio engine go. His numbers are down from his norm — 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks per game — and not as impressive as those posted by Aldridge (21.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg) or Randolph (20.0 ppg, 13.2 rpg) or even Odom (15.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg), L.A.’s sixth man. And Duncan is not leading the Spurs in scoring or in shots during crunch time.

Watch the games, though. When it really comes down to it, Duncan is the Spurs’ first option. At worst, he is the second option behind Manu Ginobili, who also made the 2011 All-Star team. And defensively, TD is the middle linebacker in San Antonio. The two best players on the best team in the League making the All-Star Game is nothing out of the ordinary.

When ranking “Who’s the best?” in office arguments and barbershop debates, stats often take a backseat to team success. Kobe trumps LeBron in the eyes of many because he has more rings. Same goes for D-Wade over LeBron, Bill Russell over Wilt Chamberlain, Magic over Stockton, etc. But funny how, when it comes to All-Star, it’s all about numbers. The immediate reaction to K-Love getting snubbed was loud enough that you’d think the country was full of Minnesota fans, and the arguments for Aldridge are still loud and long.

Where does Duncan fit in? If we are really celebrating the best the NBA has to offer on Feb. 20 in L.A., Duncan is the face of the best team in the League. He is their leader on defense, their identity on offense. That should be enough to justify an All-Star spot.

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  • SkyGriever

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  • aj

    Average Duncan’s numbers out to Love’s minutes per game (an argument that isn’t without a hole or two) and Duncan averages 17 ppg, 11 rpg, 3.7 apg, & 2.4 bpg. Basically, he’s still producing when he’s playing, though he’s not scoring at the clip he used to.

  • yoda

    and funny thing is, duncan would rather sit out this one than play it in lal all star weekend

  • First & Foremost

    STOP PLAYING… He has scored a total of 10 points in TWO games vs. the Lakers this year. TD, I really hate to say it about him since I was a fan of his for so long, is a product of the system. If someone goes down, the next guy steps in and the team manages during that time. You take Kevin Love away from the Timberwolves or LMA from the Blazers and there would be 3 teams in the league with 15 game losing streaks. Duncan has disappeared in his fair share of games this season but the Spurs still win and sometimes they win big.

    He will always be remembered as a great Power Forward but this year there were better Power Forwards in the West.

    LMA or TD, it could go either way, but it is what it is.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    I love TD’s game. I love his demeanor. That said, Shaq, AI, Yao, KG, T-Mac etc were late 90s, early 2000s. Not now. And yet for the past year or two, they all get a ton of All-Star love.

    It’s why in 10 years, Kevin Love might still be in the All-Star game when he’s not supposed to be there. Veterans have an advantage. It’s just the way it is. “If they’re really good, they’ll get there someday” seems to be the feeling. Aldridge and Love will be there next year and the year after that – TD might never get back.

    Doesn’t mean that he deserves it this year, though. He may, but there are other really good teams out there that aren’t represented in the same way.

  • GEO


  • cesar

    everybody talks about TD, but what about KG? his numbers arent like 5 years ago

  • 12thman

    TD, KG. Numbers 1 and 2 of the greatest all-time power forwards. They should make it straight off of legacy, especially when you consider that they still produce at pretty high levels, their spot is earned at this point. Until they fall off completely, guys like that should be automatic

  • Pugz

    highly disagree with this. hes not producing on the level of LA this year. not at all. i refuse to believe that duncan at 34 years old and 30 mpg deserves to be in the all star game over a guy single-handedly carrying his team as their perennial all star and leader is sidelined with knee injuries. let me put it this way, do you honestly think if Duncan was put in place of LA in Portland that they would have the success that they have recently been having without BROY? because i find that very hard to believe.

  • Pugz

    oh and Boozer or JSmoove should be in over KG as well…

  • christiano

    great article! tim could give a fuck about playing in the all star game, too busy worrying about winning what counts…if aldridge and randolph were as good as they thinkt to be, their teams wouldn’t suck…tim’s been winning rings with a different cast throughout the years…i dont know why im arguing bc the article is giving him props, i guess im just used to responding to all the spurs hate….og srups og!

  • drew

    respectfully disagree. aldridge and randolph arent exactly on poor teams either, and duncan hasnt played enough minutes to honestly warrant his selection over other candidates with simply less rep than he does.

  • pipdaddyy

    It’s not that Duncan is totally undeserving, but Aldridge and Randolph just deserve it more (not sure about Odom). Duncan is still good, but SA is so much better because of the improvement of Ginobili and Parker and not because of the (slightly) slipping Duncan.

  • First & Foremost

    @Cesar – Josh disappears from time to time and Boozer gets hurt in non-basketball related accidents. I’d be on board with taking KG out of the game too if you can find better forwards in the East.

    @GEO – Foreign players are “underrated” because they aren’t marketed towards Americans. Fernadez paid tribute to the first hispanic player to play in the NBA yet America had no idea who he was paying tribute to. Yi Jilian is huge in China. DC and NJ not so much.

    @Pipdaddyy – cosign

  • http://www.curtpalme.com/forum/files/you_re_a_homo_767.jpg JAY

    I kind of agree with some of the article… minus the part about TD deserving his all-star spot. Lol.

    There’s no doubt Duncan can still dominate and take over when he needs to, but he’s not. He’s coasting. Popovich is keeping his minutes down so he can be healthy for the Playoffs. The All-Star game should reward the players who are producing during the regular season; not the players who COULD do better but are getting ready for playoffs. Aldridge is busting his balls trying to keep his team above water and pulling in All-Star worthy numbers, while TD is coasting. Something, to me, is not right about that picture.

  • Ian

    I wouldn’t mind td stayin home but his replacement should be parker not the dudes you mentioned. Now his numbers when getting playin time like someone mentioned are allstar numbers and he’s better on D than la or zr. Duncan has 10pts vs the lakers yeah and kobe is shootin like 3percent vs the spurs so I guess he shouldn’t be an allstar.

  • Pugz

    I’m not sure its a question of whether or not Duncan COULD possibly play at a higher level this season, the problem is that he’s not. So therefore, if hes slacking and preserving himself for the playoffs, why not give other guys a slot on the team who have been busting their ass all season? cough aldridge cough. oh and is the website all fucked up for you guys too?