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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Every offseason, it seems like Duncan is on the verge of retiring, but then he decides to return and keeps producing at an All-NBA level for another season. The 39-year-old averaged 13.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 0.8 steals in 29 minutes per game through 77 games in 2014-15. While almost averaging a double-double at 39 is astounding, Duncan backs his production up with an efficient 51 percent from the field and a respectable 74 percent from the free-throw line. Now that the Spurs have acquired some high-level talent to add depth in the frontcourt with David West and LaMarcus Aldridge, it's likely that Duncan's minutes will be tactfully distributed to help the Big Fundamental ease into a role that may be even further reduced, not of neccesscity, but out of wealth. The Spurs have so much depth in the frontcourt that they could essentially put Duncan in stasis for half the season and thaw him out to bring the ruckus in the playoffs. Duncan will most likely play no more than 30 minutes per game under coach Gregg Popovich this season, and with the added depth, it's possible that Duncan will play much less this season, but we seem to think that he'll fall off a cliff every season, and Duncan finds a way to soar. Fantasy managers love the idea of drafting sleepers and fresh-to-deaf rookies with tantilizing production, but if Duncan is sitting there in the middle rounds, and you find yourself saying, "Man, I could use some blocks," then draft him. He's like a fine wine. Don't be afraid to open the bottle.
Heading into his 18th NBA season, Tim Duncan will be looking to add another ring to his fingers so he can cosplay as Thanos with minimal effort. Last season, leading the Spurs to the championship and garnering his fifth ring in the process, Duncan averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.6 steals, and 1.9 blocks in 29 minutes per game through 74 games. He shot 49 percent from the field on 12.2 attempts per game and 73 percent from the line on 4.3 attempts per game. Duncan has been remarkably consistent despite being 38 years old. He pulled down over nine boards a game for the third consecutive season and also shot over 49 percent for the eighth consecutive season. Coach Gregg Popovich is known for resting his stars and playing them limited minutes, so much so that Spurs generally hold limited fantasy value. With that said, Duncan missed just eight games last season. If you look back at the numbers Duncan has produced over the past four seasons, they are remarkably consistent, and there is no reason to think that Popovich will change his style or that Duncan will regress significantly this season. Duncan had the fifth most blocks in the entire NBA at 139, as well as posting the league's sixth best PER (player efficiency rating), at a mark of 24.4. For fantasy, Duncan's ability to block shots, score, grab boards, and shoot solid percentages makes him, yet again, a solid yet often overlooked player.
Duncan's rejuvenated performance last season was a surprise to many, as it seemed that the veteran superstar had already succumbed to the powers of aging, averaging just 13.4 points and 15.4 points in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons respectively, the lowest averages of his entire career. Last season was arguably his best season of the past four years. Duncan averaged 17.8 points (50 percent from the field), 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.7 blocks in 69 games. Although he will be 37 years old heading into the coming season, Duncan still looks to be a valuable fantasy asset. Barring any major injuries, the veteran forward should still be a viable option in most formats. However, it is possible that his minutes could take a dip, particularly during the second half of the season, as coach Gregg Popovich generally prefers not to overload his aging superstars with excessive mileage down the line. His value in keeper leagues is limited by his age, but Ducan remains a great buy at the right price in one-year leagues.
Duncan’s not a sexy pick any longer. He won’t elicit oohs and aahs when you select him in the fifth round or later. Consistency rarely gets a reaction. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich continued his Duncan preservation project, limiting the big man’s minutes to 28 per game last season, in addition to giving him occasional nights off. Duncan averaged 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game despite the drop in minutes--lower than his career per-game averages--but his per-minute numbers remain static. And those per-game averages were up from the career-lows he set the previous season. He hovered around 50 percent shooting (49.2) and blocked more than a shot per game (1.5). We know the downside by now: his free-throw shooting remains in the 70-percent range, the reduced minutes, and his age. Duncan will be 36 when the regular season tips off. The Spurs re-signed him for another three seasons this offseason. If you don’t jump too early, Duncan should be a great value pick from the fifth round and beyond.
After dominating the NBA power forward position for 13 seasons, Duncan finally started to show his age during his 14th campaign. The 35-year-old big man finished the season with career-lows in points (13.5) and rebounds (8.9) while playing the fewest minutes (28) of his career. Despite the drop in production, Duncan still held decent fantasy value thanks to his contributions in field-goal percentage (50.0) and blocks (1.9). The Spurs are a team on their last legs, so look for coach Gregg Popovich to continue limiting his veteran’s minutes during the regular season. While Duncan’s per-game averages would surely be better with more playing time, fantasy owners should appreciate the fact that less minutes have helped contribute to Duncan staying healthy as he enters the twilight of his career. Duncan’s name value will most likely cause his draft day value to remain somewhat inflated in comparison to his actual production, but if he happens to drop, this old dog still has value.
Duncan recorded the fewest ppg (17.9), rpg (10.1) and bpg (1.5) during his 13-year career last season, which isn't a surprise since he also spent his least amount of time on the court (31:18 mpg); in fact, his mpg have now dropped in each of the past four seasons. Duncan is 34 years old and has played in 1,147 career games if you count the postseason, so it's hard to argue with the Spurs' strategy, as he's managed to appear in at least 75 games in each of the past five seasons, and San Antonio is clearly more concerned with the postseason anyway. Still, it's a tactic likely to continue, limiting Duncan's fantasy value. While they may be career-lows, all those aforementioned numbers are still plenty impressive, but Duncan struggles from the charity stripe (68.7% for his career), and further overall decline can safely be expected. Duncan's an interesting option for owners who prefer not reach for "the next big thing", his fantasy value is going in the wrong direction.
At age 33 and with 899 games played, it’s clear which direction Duncan’s career is going. However, he remained extremely productive last season, even if his block (1.7) and steal (0.5) averages were both career-worsts. His minutes per game have decreased in each of the past three years, as the Spurs are more focused on the playoffs than the regular season. Duncan remains a fantastic defender and rebounder and has an array of polished post moves thanks to sound fundamentals and excellent footwork. Even at this stage of his career, Duncan’s one of the best players in the NBA, though his weakness at the free-throw line remains a problem for fantasy purposes. Still, it’s safe to expect further decline in his overall stats moving forward, considering his age and that he’s approaching 1,000 career games. Moreover, the team won’t have to rely on him as much with a healthy Manu Ginobili returning and also with the addition of Richard Jefferson to take on some of the scoring load. Because he’s no longer a sexy pick, Duncan could be undervalued in some formats, because even if his numbers continue to decline, his floor remains far higher than most.
It’d be awfully tough to come up with a list of the ten best players in the NBA without including Duncan. It might be just as hard to find a fantasy league where Timmy is picked in the top ten. Why the discrepancy? The biggest problem is focus. As in, the Spurs focus on the post-season, limiting Duncan’s minutes from November to April so he can do his best work in May and June. The other problem is free-throw shooting. Like Shaquille O’Neal in his prime, Duncan racks up a ton of free-throw attempts, and misses entirely too many of those freebies. A bad percentage from such a high-volume free-throw shooter can kill a fantasy team’s average. The free throw shooting may not be as much of a problem as in years past – last season Duncan raised that average to 73 percent – his best total since 2001-02. The minutes, on the other hand, seem likely to continue a downward trend.
Duncan is a better player in real life than he is in fantasy; an MVP-caliber NBA player but only a fantasy all-star. He still puts up outstanding numbers in most categories (20.0 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 54.6% FG, 3.4 apg), but he only plays about 34 minutes per night as he has reached the stage in his career where it’s more important for him to remain fresh for the playoffs than to put up the video game-type numbers in the regular season. He’s also been relatively healthy for the past two seasons, with consecutive 80-game campaigns to counter the notion that age and injury were slowing him down. Really, the only weakness in Duncan’s game is at the free throw line (63.7% on 7.1 attempts/game). Combined with his low minutes played, this might put him a notch below the elite fantasy players at the position.
Duncan's contributions as fantasy player have been in decline for several seasons now, as the Spurs limit his regular-season minutes somewhat and his overall numbers suffer as a result. That said, Duncan is still an excellent source of rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage, so long as you can absorb a hit to your free-throw shooting. Duncan's scoring has declined for four straight seasons, but he's still good for 18 per game, which is nothing to sneeze at, especially if he qualifies at center in your league.
Poor free throw shooting is the only thing that keeps Duncan from moving up the list; in a points league, Duncan trails only KG and maybe LeBron in value. Duncan shot 67% from the line in the regular season, which was actually quite a bit better than his 60% figure from 2003-04. Everywhere else, though, Duncan is dominant. The Big Fundamental has averaged over 20 points and 11 rebounds per game in each of his eight years in the league, and last year was no different. His scoring and rebounding were down just a bit, but so were his minutes, as the Spurs did their best to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Duncan adds value over the other power forwards with his shot-blocking, ranking third in the league with 2.64 rejections per game. Duncan's health is a bit of a red flag, as he's missed 29 games combined over the past two seasons with persistent ankle problems, but he provides a ton of value when he’s in your lineup.
An awful lot of the criticism of Team USA's performance in Athens centered on fundamentals. They can't pass. They can't shoot. They don't play the game "the right way." Well, I beg to differ - there's one Dream Teamer who is fundamentally sound. Hell, he DEFINES fundamentally sound. He'll also be thrilled to return to the land where superstars get the benefit of the doubt from the zebras, and every team doesn't play a zone that collapses on him every time he sniffs the ball. In this land, Duncan will continue to put up MVP-type numbers. His only flaw, of course, is free-throw shooting... he was under 60% for the season.
After averaging 23.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.93 blocks in 39.3 minutes per night, Duncan, at 27, is now entering the prime of his career. Expect similar numbers to last season, making him the likely number one overall pick in leagues where he is center-eligible.
More Fantasy News
'Leaning strongly' toward retirement
Duncan is said to be "leaning strongly" toward announcing his retirement, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
Duncan exercised his $5.6 player option for the 2016-17 season, but still remains uncertain whether he'll return to the Spurs for a 20th season, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
Duncan collected 19 points (7-14 FG, 5-6 FT), five rebounds and a block over 34 minutes in Thursday's 113-99 season-ending Game 6 loss to the Thunder.
Duncan had no points and grabbed three rebounds across 12 minutes during the Spurs' 111-97 loss to the Thunder in Sunday's Game 4.
Duncan finished with just two points (1-8 FG), nine rebounds, and two assists in 28 minutes during Monday's Game 2 loss to the Thunder.