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October 23, 2020

TIM DUNCAN – The Underrated Superstar

            Timothy Theodore Duncan is by far the most underrated superstar in NBA history.  Tim Duncan was widely considered during his 19 seasons by his peers as the best to ever play the game.  Largely because Duncan doesn’t have much fanfare and drama which in turn made him unnoticed by the general fans.  For instance, he doesn’t express himself whenever he dunks during breakaways, unlike Russell Westbrook’s animated expressions.    The longevity of Tim Duncan was unheard of during his time; in fact they mention his retirement every year until he won his fifth, by then they just stopped and let’s just wait. Father-time took a back seat on this one.

            For the most part of Tim Duncan’s career he accumulated records and honors that some of the more popular names only dreamed about.  So instead of just praising and admiring his records let’s just compare it to some notable/famous stars.

            Generally we will be presenting only four (4) records, as per basketball analytics expert Dean Oliver.  These four Ratings can accurately present a player’s overall performance: shooting efficiency, rebounds, turnovers and free throws.


            Kobe is a polarizing figure in the NBA and in the basketball world. He has game and off-court stories which make him recognizable to the public.  But let see how he compare to Tim Duncan.

50.6% True Shooting % 44.7%
69.6% Free Throw% 33.6% 
10.8 Rebounds 5.2
2.4 Turnovers 3

            Statistically speaking Duncan has clear advantage over Kobe’s.  Even during those times that they went head-to-head and the Lakers coming out victorious Duncan still came out better.  Duncan’s playoff record is still better with FG% .501 and Kobe’s FG% of .448.  In fact, Duncan’s relevancy to the team was very high compared to Kobe’s.  Kobe Bryant only became relevant after Shaq trade.  On the win percentage shares per 48min which accounts for the over-all player’s contribution on the winning circle, Duncan has .209 while Kobe has .170 making Duncan more valuable on his tenure with the team.

In addition, Duncan is a Two-Time NBA MVP, five-time NBA champion (3x Finals MVP), 1998 Rookie-of-the-year, 15x All Defensive Team, 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 15x all-star, 15x all-NBA Selection.

While Bryant, 2008 NBA MVP, 5x NBA Champion (two Finals MVP), 2x Olympic Gold Medals, 18x All-Star (4x MVP), 15x All-NBA Selection, 12x All-defense, two-time scoring champion and 1997 Slam-Dunk Champion.

            Overall, Duncan is arguably has a clear advantage over Kobe.  Third all-time in scoring that’s great for Kobe’s legacy.  Duncan’s legacy reaches far more, during his tenure with the Spurs, San Antonio made the Playoffs every year except during the lockout and with 50+ wins during the regular season.

Shaquille O’Neil

            Head-to-head this two are as amazing to watch and statistically they’re equally entertaining.  Arguably, Shaq was the most dominant big-man of the last one and a half decades.  But let’s see who played it best.

50.6% True Shooting % 58.2%
69.6% Free Throw% 52.7%
10.8 Rebounds 10.9
2.4 Turnovers 2.7

            This two both played 19 seasons in the NBA with Tim Duncan winning one more titles than Shaq’s four (4).  Both had played 15 All-star games with Shaq winning 3 all-star MVPs.  Both have 3 Finals MVPs with Tim Duncan winning two (2) more regular MVP with Shaq’s one (1). Both are Rookie-of-the-Year. 

            Statistically, this two are fighting for supremacy the difference is Duncan was more relevant on his team than Shaq’s in terms of longevity.  Shaq faded after his fourth ring and bounced off on several team with no to little impact on winning.  Shaq has 181.7 win shares on his career and Duncan never missed the playoffs.  Talk about dominance.  While Shaq never won another ring, Duncan won two (2) more in 2007 and 2014.   Shaq even twitted that if he ran into a Tim Duncan fan and claim that Duncan was the GOAT he won’t disagree.

Michael Jordan – The G.O.A.T.

            Michael is the greatest of all time no doubt.  Every player that came before, during and after him gets compared to MJ.  If MJ is the baseline then it’s natural to compare Tim Duncan with Michael Jordan himself.  This includes Jordan’s time with the Washington Wizards.

50.6% True Shooting % 49.7%
69.6% Free Throw% 83.5%
10.8 Rebounds 6.2
2.4 Turnovers 2.7

            Tim Duncan played more seasons than Jordan’s 15 but he won 6 rings with that.  Both have been selected 10x in All-NBA 1st Team and both Rookie-of-the-year.  Jordan, however, was the scoring leader for 10 seasons.  Jordan has no doubt more trophy hardware than Tim Duncan.  But let us take a look at the winning percentage of these two.  Diehard Jordan fans might be surprised to know that Tim Duncan has an advantage over Jordan’s. 

Duncan has 1,392 regular season games with a record of 1,001- 391 or a .719 win percentage. 

While Jordan has 1,072 regular season games with a record of 706-366 or a .658 win percentage.  Even if we remove the Wizard stats, it is still short with Duncan’s. 

Conversely on playoff records Jordan prevails, even if Jordan only played 13 playoffs compared to 18 playoffs of Tim Duncan.  His Airness has a record of 119-60 W/L record or .644 win percentages, while Duncan has .625 win percentage or a 157-94 W/L record.   

With that in mind, who was the better player?  Let’s now look at the win shares.  Tim Duncan’s career win shares is 206.4 and Michael Jordan’s career win shares is 214.0. Even during the playoffs Jordan still prevails with 39.8 win shares and Tim’s 37.8.  Jordan’s NBA duration was a formidable force even for the likes of Tim Duncan.

For all the Marbles

Michael Jordan has been hailed as the G.O.A.T. for absolutely a number of different reasons.  Tim Duncan has more rings than any of the Superstars/ All-stars after Michael Jordan.  He has more rings than Kobe (5), Shaq (4) and LeBron (3).  Remember, in terms of winning consistency Tim Duncan has a clear advantage even to Michael Jordan. 

Every time we talk about who was the best player of all time, Tim Duncan should be on that argument.  But for Tim Duncan he preferred to do it his way without the glamour, façade and theatrics than most of the modern players and fans have been accustomed to. 

“The Big Fundamental”


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