Tim Duncan is one of the greatest players – and winners – in NBA history. He’s a five-time NBA champion, a three-time Finals MVP, a two-time regular season MVP and a 15-time All-Star.
But he’s also 40 years old. Even worse, he’s playing like it.
Yes, Duncan has been an afterthought in the playoffs, especially against the Thunder, averaging less than 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Duncan has been a consummate pro – perhaps the best of his generation. But is this the end?
“I really do think so,” Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I just think that this series, more than any other that we’ve seen, has really pointed out that the league has probably passed him by. The way that modern basketball is going does probably not include Tim Duncan’s game and the kind of thing he does. If he were still in his prime, that wouldn’t necessarily be the case. But I just think that the combination of being 40 years old and really coming into a league and trying to hang on in a league where big men are expected to shoot three-pointers and get up and down and guard point guards – that should probably signal to Tim Duncan that this is it.”
As Duncan’s play has diminished, LaMarcus Aldridge has stepped up. He averaged 39.5 points and shot 33-of-44 (75.0 percent) in his first two games against Oklahoma City, but those numbers dipped to 21.3 points and 22-of-60 (36.7 percent) in Games 3-5.
Are the Spurs’ recent struggles on Aldridge?
“I hesitate to put it all on him because I think the more they’ve put Steven Adams on him, the better it’s been for the Thunder,” Deveney said. “So I tend to maybe credit Steven Adams a little more than necessarily fault LaMarcus Aldridge. But that should have been a strength. It was at times a strength and certainly in the first round, but it’s really not been a strength here at this point. I hesitate to say that’s all LaMarcus Aldridge’s fault, because from my vantage point, Adams has actually played some really great defense on him and I think that’s been a difference-maker.”
Russell Westbrook has also been a difference-maker. He is averaging 25.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in the playoffs, trailing only Kevin Durant and Adams, respectively, in those categories.
“It kind of goes back to the Duncan thing,” Deveney said. “We’ve been talking about this for four or five years now, but you can really see it becoming more and more pronounced: When Russell Westbrook, (your point guard), is your second-leading rebounder, then you know that the league is changing.”