• 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.

Fantasy News

  • Boban Marjanovic
    C, Dallas Mavericks

    Boban Marjanovic was extremely efficient (5-for6 FGs, 2-for-2 FTs) on Tuesday, producing 12 points, seven rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 16 minutes vs. the Clippers.

    With Dwight Powell likely lost for the season, Marjanovic should see a few extra minutes. And that's really all he needs to provide decent fantasy value. However, even with Kristaps Porzingis out for the past ten games, Boban played in just six. Keep in mind that he's unlikely to play in nearly every game even if his minutes get bumped into the 15-minute range.

  • Delon Wright
    PG, Dallas Mavericks

    Delon Wright was nearly invisible in the box score on Tuesday vs. the Clippers with two points, one rebound, two assists and one steal in 12 minutes.

    Wright's minutes have been under 15 per game for three straight games now after a stretch of five games of over 20 minutes. He's frustrating to own, but when he's getting over 20 minutes, he's putting up standard-league value. If his stat set isn't interesting to you, feel free to leave him alone, but there's always a chance he gets back to the mid-round player he was in Memphis last season.

  • Maxi Kleber
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Maximillian Kleber played 32 minutes in a loss to the Clippers on Tuesday, providing eight points on 4-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, one assist and two blocks.

    Kleber was back on the bench with Kristaps Porzingis returning to the lineup, but Dwight Powell went down with what looks to be a season-ending injury, so he's right back to a 30-plus minute role. That load has had him inside the top-100 lately due to his blocks and threes skill set. He's worth an add in case he's still out there in your league.

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Luka Doncic filled up the box score once again on Tuesday with 36 points on 12-of-26 shooting, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes as the Mavs lost to the Clippers 107-110.

    Doncic made just 9-of-14 free throws, though one miss was intentional. The free throws have dipped a bit closer to last year's sub-par mark lately. If he can right the ship there, Doncic should have a great chance at finishing the season as a top-10 player.

  • Kristaps Porzingis
    PF-C, Dallas Mavericks

    Kristaps Porzingis returned from a 10-game absence on Tuesday and struggled to get his shot to fall, putting up 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting with nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes.

    Porzingis' minutes were slightly limited, but 27 minutes right out of the gate is encouraging. Dwight Powell looks to be done for the season after an Achilles injury tonight, so Porzingis may be needed to pull some additional weight in the second half of the season. He should be a top-50 player down the stretch.

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers to a 110-107 road win over the Mavs on Tuesday with 36 points (12-of-29 FGs, 11-of-12 FTs), 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks and a three in 36 minutes.

    All that with just one turnover for Leonard, too. Leonard may sit a game out every other week or so, but he's been the top player on a per game basis over the last month. His number will likely get dialed back a bit when Paul George returns, but there are few better when Leonard takes the floor.

  • Landry Shamet
    SG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Landry Shamet made five 3-pointers as part of an 18-point, three-rebound, one-assist performance in 36 minutes in a win over the Mavs on Tuesday.

    Shamet his all three of his freebies and attempted eight 3-point shots and no 2-point shots in this one. Shamet's performance from distance is the only reason to stream him from time to time. He's an excellent free throw shooter, but he doesn't get to the line often enough for it to help much.

  • Maurice Harkless
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Maurice Harkless (sore lower back) returned from a one-game absence on Tuesday and barely played against the Mavs, accumulating just one rebound and four fouls in nine minutes.

    Even in a start due to Paul George's continued absence, Harkless disappointed. He's worth streaming if you need a steal or a block, but as he's shown, even a starting role doesn't guarantee a good game for Harkless.

  • Patrick Beverley
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Patrick Beverley will not return to Monday's game against the Mavs due to a sore right groin.

    Beverley's night ends with nine points (3-of-5 shooting), four rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers in 15 minutes. When Beverley missed time recently, the Clippers filled his role with a combination of players, including Derrick Walton Jr. If Beverley misses more time, Paul George will likely be back to pick up some ball-handling slack, as well.

    Source: Brad Townsend on Twitter

  • Dwight Powell
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Dwight Powell (right Achilles injury) is expected to have suffered a season-ending torn right Achilles tendon.

    That was the worry right away after the non-contact injury occurred. The Mavs will miss Powell. Look for Maxi Kleber and possibly Boban Marjanovic to pick up some of the slack. But, this will most likely have an effect on all of the rotation, even down to the guards.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter