There’s no way getting around the fact that Tony Parker is the best player on the San Antonio Spurs team, but it’s hard to deny the early renaissance Tim Duncan is going through. And we thought last season was great for the aging big man, but he’s proving many (including us) wrong one more time.
At the age of 36, Tim Duncan played 41 minutes in a 111-106 overtime win over the Toronto Raptors. He scored 26 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out six assists, while adding 3 blocks on defense. It did ruin his 20-10 streak, which was about three games long with 20 points and 14 rebounds (at least), but he’s still averaging 19 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Those aren’t comeback numbers, those are All-Star, best big man in the NBA kind of numbers.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, these were the Toronto Raptors we’re talking about; a team with Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas as their threat in the paint. Soft doesn’t begin to describe them. But Duncan, playing over 30 minutes a night for the first time in three years, did very well against teams more equipped to handle size and ability down low. If this was a one time thing, we’d let it pass. But Duncan has been playing like this all month long.
If Tim Duncan has actually channeled his younger self, someone who can handle the physicality and speed of a younger generation, the Spurs are more than in the discussion. They’re only a bit more consistent Manu Ginobili from being the best team in the NBA. Not the most trained or deepest; the BEST. Sure, they have some match-up problems against teams like the Clippers and Grizzlies, but Gregg Popovich isn’t the best coach in the NBA so he can let his players figure it out on their own.
The team that underwent the least amount of change during the offseason isn’t perfect, but it certainly the closest at the moment to being a complete and efficient machine, with their 11-3 record, best in the NBA at the moment.
Again, the big credit has to go to Tony Parker, once again tinkering with MVP calls and comparisons early on in the season. He finished with 32 points, some big buckets and an even bigger defensive play on Jose Calderon. I saw that Calderon was going to lob it and so I felt that with my speed I could sneak in there and get it. just tried to make a play and it worked out for me.
The French point guard is going wild on the current road-trip, averaging 30.3 points and 7 assists over the last three games. He’s averaging 17.7 points and 7.5 assists so far this season, and while none of the role players take the next step in a consistent way and break up the rule of the big (and old) three, Parker continues, along with Duncan, to be the beacon of excellence and intelligent play on the Spurs and for most of the NBA. Manu Ginobili? He’s here for the brilliance, those sparks of genius, even if they’re illegal.