Where does Tim Duncan rank all-time in NBA History?

When Duncan won his eighth consecutive NBA First Team recognition (in 8 seasons) this year, I asked my brother when people were going to start calling Duncan the greatest power forward in NBA History.

Because that is where I had him. I assumed people always gave lip service to other players with lesser pedigrees because they were flashy and Tim Duncan is one of the most dull public figures since the Daryll #2 from Newhart.

But numbers tell the tale.

8 NBA First teams. Two MVPs. 2 Championships. 2 NBA Finals MVPs.

Now he has added another title and Finals MVP to that list.

So, today on sports radio, the debate is in full bloom. Is Duncan the greatest PF of all time?

Where does he rank on the list of all-time NBA players regardless of positon?

First, I believe that Duncan in the greatest PF of all-time. The other candidates are:

(1) Karl Malone. Second all-time scorer in NBA History. Personal statistics exceed Duncan in almost every way (even taking into account that he played more seasons). Three trips to the NBA Finals. Two time MVP. Two gold medals. 11 All-NBA First teams. Zero Championships.
Assessment: A few years ago, he was far and away my #1 choice. His lack of a ring hurts when compared to Duncan’s three. You can only explain away so much by blaming Jordan’s dominance. Karl could have won one during the Houston years or in the lockout season when they were the defending Western Conference champs. That would be the year TD got his first ring…

(2) Charles Barkley. Incredible numbers, put up despite being a 6’5" power forward. One trip to the finals. One MVP. 5 All-NBA First Teams. Numerous hilarious quotes. Zero Championships.
Assessment: Barkley is definitely one of the most entertaining players in NBA history. But “quick wit” doesn’t add up to a championship ring. As with Malone, it really comes down to that. Without a ring, at least one, you really shouldn’t be considered the greatest at your position.

(3) Elvin Hayes. Kind of underated. Excellent numbers. One Championship. Zero MVP Awards. 3 Time NBA First team. Kind of a surly guy, as well.
Assessment: He has the ring, but he was never the MVP of the league. If you can’t prove you were the best player in the league ONCE, then it is hard for me to think you were the best player at your position.

(4) Kevin McHale. A solid player, but he should not be part of the debate. Despite winning 3 Championships, he was never the guy who led a team to the title. He was an excellent defender, but he only made one NBA First team, and NO second teams.
Assessment: I don’t understand why his name comes up in the debate.

(5) Bob Petitt. One championship. Two MVPs. 10 Time All-NBA First team. Averaged 26 Pts, 16 Boards for a career. The only guy to beat Bill Russell in the NBA Finals.
Assessment: Played much of his career pre-integration AND he never played a game on color TV.

Overall: None of these guys have the resume of Tim Duncan. Three rings puts a superstar into pretty elite company. LARRY BIRD has three rings. ShaqHakeem Olajuwon has TWO!

I hit submit as I was going back to add that Shaq had three.

Also, I wanted to mention that where Duncan is at in his career already makes him elgible to be in the discussion of “TOP TEN ALL-TIME.”

Bill Walton once said that there is a “BIG SIX” of NBA superstars that can say that they are the best all-time.

MJ. Russell. Wilt. Kareem. Magic. Larry.

After that, everyone else is battling for the last four in the top ten.

Even Oscar Robertson.

I agree with Walton on this. And though I am not ready to put Duncan in a BIG SEVEN, I think hecan easily stand up and make a case that he belongs there (not that he would…)

He is in competition with: Robertson, Olajuwon, Stockton, Robinson, West, Hayes/Malone/Barkley, Baylor, the Doctor, Moses, Reed, and Cousey.

Not sure who I’d finish out the top ten with (Duncan being so modern hurts his standing when you are trying to view something historically), but I would not be embarrassed if Duncan were on my list.

I don’t follow basketball but Duncan currently has a HOF monitor of 385. Those with a minimum of 135 are considered HOF material.

I’d say that Duncan is more center than power forward. And as a center, I’d put him at the same level as Shaq. After Kareem’s time, only Olajuwan ranks ahead of Duncan and Shaq, IMHO. We’ll have to watch the rest of their careers to see if either can surpass Hakeem.

Acording to that link Rik Smits is a shoe in for the hall of fame.

Acording to that link Rik Smits is a shoe in for the hall of fame.

You mean where is he on the list of “players who nearly sabotaged their team’s chances of winning by bricking tons of free throws in game 5 and then shooting up bricks for most of game 7 and still winning the Finals MPV even though Ginobili arguably was the MVP for three out of the four San Antonio wins”…? I’d put him pretty much alone at the top.

I’m sorry. I’m just bitter that the announcers and writers seemed to jump at any chance to paint Duncan as the hero and star of the series when he clearly was having a bad series, and even admitted it himself, much to his credit.

That being said, he had a bad series, but he clearly (IMO) is one of the greatest forwards of all time. I would probably put him at the top, but only because of the forward designation. I think of him as a center, and if I were ranking him among centers I would put him after Russell, Chamberlain, Kareem, Wilt, Hakeem, Robinson, et al.

Actually, no he’s not. If you click on the player’s name, they list his stats and then his HOF score, and Smits has something like an 85, well below the score for a likely inductee.

I agree. He is really playing the role of a center. As a center, Shaq is a far better player than both Duncan and Olajuwon. Shaq is better in just about every category. Plus, he is one of the more intimidating players to ever play the game.

If you consider Duncan a power forward, he is still not the best ever. I think he is ahead of McHale and Barkley, but behind Malone. The championship thing is an unfair thing to hold against those guys. They were playing against the greatest player ever, who lead some of the greatest teams ever assembled. The Bulls would have destroyed today’s Spurs. I think a few of the teams Jordan crucified would have done well against the Spurs.

Not to mention that two of those Spurs championships were due, in large part, to David Robinson.

Duncan has been playing center at crunch time during this Finals because of the Robert Horry effect, but the Spurs have made a very conscious effort to slot him in at PF, especially during the regular season - for the first two championships, Robinson was obviously playing center, and since he retired, they’ve had Nesterovic and Mohammed, both of whom tend to see a lot less minutes in the playoffs. Still, this year, Nazr averaged 23 minutes a game during the playoffs and Rasho added another seven and change. If we cancel Rasho’s minutes with the minutes Duncan was on the bench resting, that’s still just under half of each game where TD had a center in there with him.

You can say the first championship was in large part due to Robinson, but Robinson had some great years and never won one 'till Duncan came along. David was largely of no more importance than the current centers by the time the second championship came along; Speedy Claxton and Stephen Jackson were the non-Duncan heroes that year.

Ginobili was great in two of the wins this year, very good in game 7… and fairly abysmal in most of the other games. Duncan was at least more consistent, and I have no argument with him getting the series MVP.

Duncan and Malone are pretty even to me right now. I expect by the time he retires, Duncan will clearly be the choice, though. You also have to note that Malone played with Stockton, who averaged twice as many assists per game over the course of his entire career as any of the Spurs PGs that you want to put next to Duncan. The disparity probably isn’t quite that significant because of how the Jazz loved that pick and roll, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that playing with Stockton would have raised Duncan’s stats by a decent amount.

I have problems with the statement that Shaq is “far” better than the Dream in every category. I’d agree that maybe he was the better player (hard for me as he played for my alma mater and favorite pro team), but the gap is very slight. He certainly was a more dominant scorer, but other than that, they seem rather balanced.

Credit Shaq with one more ring than Dream, but Dream holds the record in their head to head Finals appearance (given, it was Shaq’s third season in the L).

I’d say Dream gains ground given that his first title was done with ZERO Hall of Fame help (unless some damn fools go and put Horry in the HoF!) while Shaq always had one of the best guards to lace them up (an interesting thread would be to assess the status of that guy!).

I agree. I shouldn’t have said far better. That was definitely an overstatement.

Nah. Maybe one was. By the second one, Robinson was primarily a defensive player and Duncan was the key to the team.