Duncan still a force

Tim Duncan is still going strong after 12 years in the NBA.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In 1997 Tim Duncan graduated from Wake Forest and joined the NBA's San Antonio Spurs as the No.1 overall draft choice. He immediately paid dividends, posting an average of 21.1 ppg and 11.9 rpg in his rookie season.

Now 12 years later, Duncan is still going strong. Through the first 24 games of the 2009-10 season, the 6'11" St. Croix, Virgin Islands native is averaging 19.9 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.5 apg and 2.1 blocks. This will be the 13th year that Duncan has averaged a double-double and could easily be another "20-10" season which he has accomplished nine times in his career.

Despite his career consistency, Duncan's perceived fantasy value dropped this season. Instead of being a first-round selection as he has been for all of his career, he was drafted near the end of the second round (Average Draft Position - 18).

Those who still chose him are being rewarded with another top-10 fantasy season while those owners who looked past the quiet, unassuming veteran are paying the price.

I was one of those "experts" who was concerned before the season began. Duncan turned 33 in April and had plenty of mileage on his body. He had played 899 regular season games and another 160 playoff games, which equals two additional seasons worth of pounding.

The team also improved its other scoring options by bringing in Richard Jefferson. Jefferson was a career 17.5 ppg small forward who runs the floor very well. He along with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gave the Spurs the ability to run more than in the past. That would take away from Duncan's opportunities.

Add in that the coach Gregg Popovich said he was going to carefully watch Duncan's minutes during the regular season so that he wouldn't wear down and you can see why many were wary of choosing Duncan too high. Duncan's minutes are down as expected, from a high of 40.6 minutes in 2001-02 to 33.7 last season and 32.1 this year. But he is still getting 14.5 field goal attempts- per-game and hitting them at 54.6%. He's also hitting his foul shots at a near career-best 77.2%.

Obviously, Duncan is on a roster in every fantasy league, but its possible his owners haven't been watching just how well he has been playing. If so, it might be possible to get him in a trade.

13-Year Career92321.411.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.