…how much of a positive impact Tim Duncan is having on the Western Conference’s top-seeded Spurs, and how it’s probably far more of an impact than almost all of this year’s All-Stars are having on their clubs? For starters, his stats aren’t the utter crap many fans seem to assume. He’s averaging 15 ppg, 9 rpg, and 1.5 blocks, all in 28 minutes per game on a team that goes out of its way to spread minutes and points around during the regular season. How good are those rebounding numbers considering his low amount of minutes played? His 18.4 Rebound% sits at 7th-best in the NBA, statistically right in the middle of Kevin Love’s 3rd-best 18.9 and Blake Griffin’s 10th-best 17.9. His scoring doesn’t look like anything much, but again we’re talking about a team that goes out of its way to get everyone meaningful touches (just like the Celtics in the 60’s), so he’s actually the team’s 2nd-leading scorer and his 47% eFG is slightly ahead of the 46% of Kobe, someone universally lauded as an impossible-to-stop scorer. Considering Duncan’s willingness to defer shots when it matters least (regular season, blowout wins/losses, 2nd quarter, etc.) is part of the reason his teammates get into rhythm, gain confidence, feel more comfortable when called upon in tougher situations, and follow the captain's lead in being unselfish when it benefits the team--which subsequently raises the team's offensive efficiency (FG%, 3FG%, eFG%, Ast/Tov, that sort of stuff)--it’s not a stretch to say Duncan is the largest reason the Spurs’ Offensive Rating of 109.3 is 2nd in the league this year. Many other superstars in their 30’s refuse to defer any part of their individual offense for various reasons even when it’s directly hurting their team’s offense and its ability to gel and stay unpredictably diversified, so Duncan’s deference can’t be pooh-poohed as something that’s being forced upon him by age; he has the clout to demand more shots in order to pad his own numbers and legacy, but he’s consciously doing what’s best for the team, and it shows as guys like Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard contribute in a way that’s only possible because Duncan is a hyper-intelligent, franchise-conscious superstar in a league full of players gunning for their own stats. Throw in his 2.4 apg (vs. only 1.7 turnovers) and an exceptionally-high-for-his-position 14.1 Assist% (topped only by Pau Gasol and Greg Monroe), and it’s clear there’s a reason the team’s offense is doing so well even with an oft-injured Manu Ginobili, a very-good-but-not-amazing year from Tony Parker, and a cast of mostly no-names populating the rest of the lineup. Then there’s San Antonio’s continuing-to-improve defense, which as always is anchored by Duncan both physically and emotionally – he’s averaging 1.5 blocks in his low amount of minutes (league 15th-best Block% at 3.8%, ahead of Tyson Chandler’s 3.6%), but it still needs to be mentioned that he’s the defensive orchestrator who does the majority of the talking and directing when the Spurs don’t have the ball. He gets guys into the right position without insulting them or hurting their confidence, still rotates better than almost any other big man in the game today, can still guard virtually any back-to-the-basket C or PF one-on-one, is somehow 2nd in the league in Defensive Rebound% (28.9%, only behind Dwight Howard), and is still the Spur who steps up in late-game possessions when an opposing center or forward will be the man taking important shots (e.g. Duncan guarding Paul Pierce at the end of their recent W over Boston). And if you didn’t notice, the Spurs defense is much better now than it was earlier in the year, and the pressure to perform is on the team now more than it was earlier in the year, and Duncan is playing more minutes now (especially in the 4th quarter) than he was earlier in the year. Again for the zillionth year in a row the Spurs defense is humming late in the season due largely to Duncan, and many fans remain blind to the fact that his offensive contribution goes far beyond stats (which aren’t even bad) and is the backbone of San Antonio’s get-everyone-involved offensive identity, the type of team identity that can only exist when it’s what the superstar captain wants. And Duncan wants nothing more than to win, so it's what the wants.