Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
San Antonio PF/C Tim Duncan has been a major force in the NBA fantasy world for a very long time. In fact, for many newcomers to the game it's hard to remember what the Spurs were like before "The Big Fundamental" arrived in south central Texas.
Let me help you with a few facts.
The 1996-97 Spurs had just finished up a putrid 20-62 season which included the firing of coach Bob Hill. With the first pick of the 1997 NBA draft, the team selected Timothy Theodore Duncan, a 6-foot-11 big man out of Wake Forest. Duncan was a three-time defensive player of the year, two-time first-team All- American and 1996-97 winner of the Naismith, Rupp and Wooden Awards. In his senior season he averaged 20.8 ppg, 14.7 rpg, 3.2 apg and 3.3 bpg.
Duncan has rarely disappointed fantasy owners over his 16-year NBA career. From 1997-98 through 2004-05 he averaged 22.5 ppg and 12.2 rpg. But at 36- years-old with over 1,300 games played, the two-time MVP has been showing a bit of wear. His last two seasons were his worst, statistically, as he averaged just 13.4 ppg in 2010-11 and 15.4 ppg last season.
Fantasy owners had obviously watched his drop in production and in Yahoo leagues the perennial first-round selection had dropped to a sixth-rounder with a preseason rank of 58.
Here at the Sports Network we projected Duncan's 2012-13 statistics would be 14.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg and 2.4 apg, ranking him 10th among all power forwards and 41st overall.
Through the first two weeks of the season, however, Duncan is defying father time, turning back the clock to a time when he was a top fantasy value. He's currently ranked No. 3 in all Yahoo fantasy leagues behind only Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. The Spurs' heart and soul is averaging 18.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg and 2.3 apg. He's also stepped it up in other fantasy categories with 1.4 steals, 2.4 blocks per game, his best shooting percentage since 2006-07 and his highest free-throw percentage in 10 seasons.
Whether he can continue at this pace is the big question and fantasy owners who don't believe he can produce at this level have the perfect opportunity to "sell high."
My opinion, however, is that now is not the time to deal Duncan. I like the up tick we have seen since he hit rock bottom in 2010-11 (13.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg) and think fantasy owners should reap the rewards of his "renaissance."