Tim Duncan's performances this year have been nothing short of inspirational to San Antonio Spurs fans. His willingness to not only step back as the main focus of the offense shows his humbleness and his true will to win.
While the Spurs are more team oriented than ever before, Duncan's contributions are more noticeable on the defensive end this year than in previous ones. In fact, these past two games are prime examples of what he's brought to the floor all season.
Duncan has not only contested and protected the rim, but he's totaled 12 blocks the past two games.
After his Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies last night, Duncan gave us the answer to his defensive game as of late.
"Guys are coming at me and I'm doing what I have to do. I don't know why or what it is. I'm not doing anything different defensively. It is what it is."
That answer shouldn't surprise you. Duncan's greatness on the court is similar to any other NBA legend that's played and that's having the skills and instinct that's naturally in them to play the way they know how. He's always been known as a smart player and if you compare this current version of Tim Duncan to one of a few years ago, he's still playing the same way with the exception of him adopting a reliable mid range jumper.
The only difference with Duncan now and then is more spring in his step. His current look and play may remind Spurs fans of how he played on the defensive end during the 2003 season where he took control of the team and carried the majority of all the burdens the team had.
His commitment to get in better shape than previous years shows the respect he has for the game, his teammates, and his fans. Many great players before him who were known for dominance withered away slowly without changing their changing their game for the benefit of their team or change a routine to better himself on the court. His "team first" mentality has helped him be comfortable being the fourth or fifth option if that benefits the team and the whole organization is reaping the rewards.
The team is progressing and developing younger talent while Duncan's resting more on the offensive end and the defense is showing. With a slimmer body, Duncan's knees can now have more life in them to protect the basket with blocks. He hasn't changed anything about his defense since he first came into the league, it's just more noticeable with less weight holding him down.
His fundamentals have always played a huge part in his on court success and the NBA's fans can't ignore him anymore. Blocks are known as a "flashy" statistic, but Duncan is showing there's a way to do everything fundamentally sound.
The Tim Duncan we see now is the same fundamentally sound player we've always seen. The difference is just on the offensive end and the rewards of that is a Defensive Player of the Year type season for the 36 year old Duncan.
His instinct and skills are something that time can't diminish and is what's made Duncan stand far apart from others before him. Duncan is averaging 2.8 blocks per game this season, an average that only rivals his 2.9 blocks per game during the 2002-2003 season.
With his intensity and dominating season protecting the paint, Duncan's nickname of "The Big Fundamental" has never been truer than this season.