Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Career and future Hall of Famedom notwithstanding, does Tim Duncan deserve an All-Star nod given his stats this season?
Steve Aschburner: This sort of debate doesn’t happen in baseball. For one, the All-Star rosters are bigger than the NBA’s 12. More important, baseball appreciates and plays to its history more than other sports. A legendary player such as Duncan, if he were a left fielder, would be embraced even in a down season for his star power and career achievements. The NBA is much more about now. (The one flaw I’ll acknowledge is that Duncan always has been a thinking man’s Hall of Famer – even in his prime, it would have been tedious to sit through a highlight reel of his greatest moments, given how un-flashy and fundamentally focused he’s been.)
Fran Blinebury: The idea that players have to earn their way onto the All-Star team with their performance in the first half of the season went out the window with canvas Chuck Taylors and the steam engine. When the NBA turned the event into a “Dancing With the Stars” for dunkers, it is simply a popularity contest. Yao Ming gets the China vote, even though he’s likely finish. Allen Iverson was a favorite last year. Magic Johnson was retired in 1992 when he was named MVP. Just relax and enjoy the show.
Art Garcia: Is there a better “center” in the Western Conference? Yes, we know he’s in the forward category, but c’mon, Timmy is a center. He’s been a center since the Admiral retired. The Spurs can parade 6-foot-7 (maybe) DeJuan Blair out there at the 5, but TD mans the pivot at both ends of the floor. Is there a better center in the West? I didn’t think so.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Yes, for two reasons: There are very few options as West coaches pick the conference reserves, creating an opportunity for Duncan that would not otherwise exist. And, the Spurs have the best record. They should have a second representative to go with Manu Ginobili. So while Duncan’s stats don’t demand attention, the circumstances do.
Shaun Powell: If he were listed at center, he’d have a case, since Yao Ming (!) is the early leader in the fan vote. But really, now, Duncan doesn’t deserve a spot at forward over LaMarcus, K-Love, Blake Griffin, Scola, Z-Bo or even Pau. Such is the price you pay when you pace yourself in the regular season, as Duncan does, to save gas for the spring.
John Schuhmann: Honestly, the only individual stat of Duncan’s that I’ve paid attention to thus far is his minutes. I had to look up his points, rebounds, etc. All I know is that the Spurs are 29-5, that Duncan is still the anchor of a top-10 defense, that they still run their offense through him in key spots, and that the team is still built around him and what he brings to the table. In my mind, he’s an All-Star.
Sekou Smith: These things are never based solely on stats. If they were, big time scorers on lousy teams would have been making All-Star teams for years. I have no problem with Duncan making it this season. There have several occasions in recent years when big man with solid but maybe not great numbers has made the All-Star team because he was on a really good team. Timmy qualifies on all counts. Duncan also has the added bonus of being one of the game’s all-time greats. That has to count for something.