Tim Duncan reigns as one of the most successful and consistently great players in the history of the NBA. Duncan was drafted out of Wake Forest as the top overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. After four years of NCAA competition, he was essentially fully developed as a player and he wasted no time in becoming not only a contributor, but an elite player in every aspect of NBA basketball.
At Wake Forest, Tim Duncan developed into an unstoppable post player, a dynamic rebounder, and a shutdown defender. He was the consensus top player in his draft class, viewed as a possible franchise-changing player to build around right away. When the Spurs lost David Robinson for the 1996-97 season, the team tanked and wound up winning the most important draft lottery of the decade. Duncan teamed up with Robinson to immediately form one of the greatest inside tandems in NBA history.
With averages of 21.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, Tim Duncan easily took home the 1998 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. It would be just the first of eight consecutive seasons in which he averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks per game. He was an immediate All-Star player and a ticket to success for the Spurs. With Tim Duncan and David Robinson sharing a frontcourt, the San Antonio Spurs were in the NBA Finals after only two seasons together. With Duncan taking home the Finals MVP honors, the Spurs toppled the New York Knicks in five games to give the team its first ever championship.
Tim Duncan is a special player not just for his ability, but for his brain. By avoiding simple mistakes, boxing out on rebounding plays, and using the backboard to his advantage he expands his game beyond just raw talent. Shaquille O’Neal dubbed Duncan, “The Big Fundamental” for his intelligent play that would help make him and the Spurs remarkably successful for more than a decade.
Tim Duncan won his first of two NBA MVP Awards in 2002 with a career high 25.5 scoring average. With Robinson’s career coming to a close, the Spurs were no longer the team of the Twin Towers, but of Tim Duncan. In 2003, Robinson’s final and least impactful season, Duncan won his second consecutive NBA MVP Award and led a new generation of Spurs to another NBA Championship.
With the development of budding All-Stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and his Spurs had plenty more success on the horizon. San Antonio once again represented the western conference in the 2005 NBA Finals. Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker proved to be a trio of great players who complimented each other on the floor. In the playoffs, the trio combined to average more than 60 points per game as the Spurs outlasted the Pistons to win a third championship in seven years.
Led by Tim Duncan, the Spurs took home their fourth championship in 2007 in their most dominating postseason run. They swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games and amassed a 16-4 record in the playoffs. For the first time in four appearances, Duncan was not named the Finals MVP, though he had another dominant postseason with 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks per game.
Tim Duncan has set the standard for excellence and success over a decade of elite play. Since the Spurs drafted Duncan in 1997, the team has yet to play a season of sub-.600 basketball. Duncan has taken home two NBA MVP Awards, four championships, and he has made the All-NBA and All-Defensive teams in all 13 seasons of his career.