July 16, 2016, 5:28 am
One Big Thing: The Big Fundamental
One of the first ‘real’ books I remember reading was a short history of the San Antonio Spurs. It was still a kids’ book, so it didn’t really get into the specifics of Spurs basketball but it did give a good overview of the organization’s history from foundation to the then-modern day.
Most importantly, it brought Tim Duncan into my consciousness. For the first time, young me had a concrete idea of how dominant Duncan and David Robertson were together, and how dominant a young Duncan already was. The book was written in the early 2000’s while Tim Duncan was still on the rise so that sense of greatness came even before we consider everything that he accomplished after 2002. While I quickly learned how to properly pronounce St. Croix, it took while to grasp the sheer brilliance of Duncan’s career.
The St. Croix native grew up a swimmer until Hurricane Hugo destroyed the island’s only Olympic-sized pool. Rather than swim in the ocean, the shark-fearing Duncan turned to basketball in 9th grade. It was a good call.
Duncan went to Wake Forest, where he lit up the NCAA. His college statistics are absolutely fabulous; he never shot below 54.5% and averaged a double double every year except for his freshman campaign when he posted a paltry 9.8 points and 9.6 rebounds. By his senior season he was up to 20.8 points and 14.7 boards on 60.8% shooting. He became the first player ever to hit 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 blocks and 200 assists. Duncan stayed in college all four years to earn a psychology degree, fulfilling a promise he made to his mother shortly before she died of breast cancer when Duncan was just 13. As a senior he won both the Naismith and John Wooden Awards and was named AP Player of the Year.
The Spurs made him the first overall pick in the draft, and the rest is history.
Duncan is one of only three players in history to spend 19 years with a single team. He is, again, one of three players to record 1,000 wins and the only one to do so with a single franchise. The Spurs made the playoffs in every single season Duncan was there and managed to win at least 50 games in 17 straight years. The Spurs are a team that we can basically pencil into the playoffs before every season, so it’s truly insane to look at all of their success laid out in front of us.
His individual numbers and accolades are staggering. If you scroll past the Awards and Honors section of his Basketball Reference page it looks like you’re skimming a TXT file.
Duncan is the San Antonio franchise leader in games played, minutes, points, rebounds and blocks. He played in 251 playoff games, the NBA’s all-time leader in playoff minutes and blocks.
Duncan was named to an All NBA Team 15 times, with 10 of those selections being to the First Team. He was an All NBA Defensive Team member 15 times as well with eight First Team nods. He was a 15 time All Star and was of course 1997’s Rookie of the Year. While ROY is a great honor for any first year player, Duncan managed to also make the All NBA First Team and All NBA Defensive Second Team.
Oh yeah, he also won two MVP Awards and three Finals MVPs to go with his five NBA Championships.
He won his first Finals MVP in 1999 when the Spurs beat the Knicks in five games. Duncan dominated the Knicks, averaging 27.4 points, 14 rebounds and 2.2 blocks with a net rating of +23. San Antonio’s second leading scorer, David Robinson, finished at 16.6 points per game. The Spurs defense stifled the Knicks, holding them to 79.8 points per game in a fairly easy victory.
His second came in 2003 when the Spurs dispatched the Nets in six games. Duncan obliterated the Nets, averaging 24.2 points, 17 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 5.3 blocks per game. He finished with an absurd +26 net rating as the Nets had no answer for Duncan’s presence. This series was capped off by a legendary Game 6 closeout performance when Duncan triple doubled* with 21 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists and 8 blocks for good measure. Perhaps even more frightening is that Duncan held his counterpoint, Kenyon Martin, to 3-23 from the floor. In a closeout game, he held his opponent to 13% shooting while dropping a monster line.
His last Finals MVP came in 2005 when the Spurs outlasted the Pistons in a low scoring, drag out slugfest. While Detroit’s frontline of Antonio McDyess and Wallace’s Ben and Rasheed held Duncan to just 41.9% from the floor, he still averaged 20.6 points, 14.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.1 blocks. Duncan outworked Detroit’s elite big men on the glass and schooled the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Big Ben. Duncan was slowed but still dominated.
Slowing Timmy was a rare occurrence in either the regular season or the playoffs; stopping him at any time was impossible. When he was on the court, Duncan’s teams were simply juggernauts.
Basketball Reference’s play index only goes back to 2000, so Duncan’s +7630 is surely undersold. Either way, he dwarfs the competition; Dirk Nowitzki is second at +6587 and LeBron James is third at +5702. Fourth and fifth on that list are Duncan’s Spurs buddies Tony Parker with +5496 and Manu Ginobili at +5137. Nobody else is above 5000.
It’s fitting that those three Spurs occupy the top of any statistical list, as they formed the core of an unstoppable basketball machine. They’re not nearly as sexy as the more modern Big 3 groups we’ve seen come and go, but there’s something to be said for their longevity, commitment to each other and sustained excellence.
Moreover, Duncan and the Spurs had a wonderfully symbiotic relationship going as it pertained to flair and personality, or supposed lack thereof. I mean, the guy’s retirement came in the form of a team press release. It’s so supremely Duncan.
July 16, 2019, 11:59 amNicolo MelliPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli underwent knee surgery and will not participate in Italy’s training camp at the end of July, ahead of the FIBA World Tournament.
This comes out of nowhere and the only relative information we have is that Melli will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis. The Italian big should be fine for the Pelicans training camp where he will compete for the backup power forward minutes as long as the surgery is not anything too serious.
July 16, 2019, 11:32 amBam AdebayoC, Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo is envisioning himself as a better all-around player, with averages of 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists this upcoming season.
Adebayo, who turns 22 on Thursday, averaged 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes while playing in all 82 of the Heat’s games last season. With the Heat trading center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers earlier this month, Adebayo is expected to be the clear-cut choice at starting center and a fantasy breakout candidate.
Source: Miami Herald
July 16, 2019, 10:49 amReggie BullockSG-SF, New York Knicks
Reggie Bullock has agreed to sign a two-year deal with the Knicks for less than the $4.7 million exception.
It was reported that Bullock intitally had an offer for two years and $20 million so this is a considerable drop on the monetary terms. The two parties had to rework their agreement after unanticipated health issues that almost made the deal fall through. This is also the end of the domino that had Marcus Morris back off his initial agreement with the Spurs and sign a deal with the Knicks instead. New York seems to be loaded in the forward positions and it’s anyone’s guess who earns the minutes to become fantasy relevant next year.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 16, 2019, 10:24 amDragan BenderPF, Phoenix Suns
As Dragan Bender continues to explore the NBA market, the Cavs and the Raptors are among the teams that have inquired about the former lottery pick.
The European market also remains an option for the Croatian forward as CSKA Moscow and Fenerbache are monitoring his situation. Bender is still only 21 years old and teams around the NBA could still take a chance on him after what has been a disappointing NBA career so far with averages of 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 131 career games.
July 16, 2019, 9:36 amRaul NetoPG, Philadelphia Sixers
Raul Neto could end up being Ben Simmons' backup to begin the 2019-20 season.
Right now, the two candidates to be the backup to starter Ben Simmons are Neto and former two-way player Shake Milton, a second-year combo guard who earned a lot of minutes at the point in the NBA Summer League. Neto started 53 of the 81 games in which he appeared as a rookie in 2015-16, but only started once over the past three seasons. He has averages of 4.8 points, 1.9 assists and 37.7 percent shooting from 3-point range in 14.2 minutes and it’s highly unlikely that he gains fantasy value even if he earns the backup job.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times
July 16, 2019, 9:27 amChris PaulPG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Brian Windhorst of ESPN is reporting that the Heat are open to the idea of teaming up Chris Paul with Jimmy Butler, but what has hung the entire negotiation up is the discussion of picks.
The Thunder holds two of Miami’s future first round draft picks, an unprotected selection in 2021 and a protected one in 2023. The Heat want those included in a potential deal and Oklahoma City has no shortage of assets as, since draft night, Sam Presti has acquired a remarkable eight first-round picks. Windhorst also added that the Heat seem to be CP3’s preferred destination and if he actually ends up in South Beach, he could retain his strong fantasy value.
July 16, 2019, 8:53 amKyle LowryPG, Toronto Raptors
Josh Lewenberg of TSN is hearing that the Raptors have no intention of moving Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka, at least not before the season.
All three veterans are on expiring deals and Masai Ujiri will give this group an opportunity to sink or swim before choosing a path and deciding what comes next. With those three and Fred VanVleet hitting the open market next summer, the Raptors will have over $90 million coming off their books and plenty of flexibility. It’s clear that there won’t be a fire sale in Toronto anytime soon while this group has proved that it is capable of winning games even without Kawhi Leonard. Things could change quickly though and Ujiri has never been shy of pulling the trigger so the future looks murky for the veteran champions.
July 16, 2019, 12:38 amDaniel TheisPF, Boston Celtics
The Celtics have rescinded their qualifying offer to big man Daniel Theis, making him an unrestricted free agent.
This is move is to maximize the team's remaining cap space. Theis will eventually be signed to a deal using his Early Bird Rights. Theis will have value as a deep-league source of blocks. He will be competing with Robert Williams to back up starting center, Enes Kanter.
Source: Keith Smith on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 10:52 pmKelan MartinSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kelan Martin led the Wolves in their 92-95 loss against the Grizzlies on Monday with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting while adding three 3-pointers, five rebounds and an assist.
Martin helped the Wolves claw back into the game with a big third quarter, but the team just fell flat. He was by far the best player on the Wolves tonight, but it's still uncertain as to whether or not tonight's performance was enough to push him onto an NBA team to start next season.
July 15, 2019, 10:51 pmKeita Bates-DiopSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Keita Bates-Diop scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting with four rebounds, an assist and a 3-pointer in Monday's loss to the Wolves.
Bates-Diop was outplayed by his fellow benchmates in this one, but nailed a clutch 3-pointer to bring the Wolves within a single possession late in the fourth. He's struggled with consistency which is why it'll be hard to envision him having an impactful role to start next season.