For the vast majority of his career, during which he won the award twice and finished among the top five in voting seven other times, that statement would have been a given.
But coming off a campaign in which he failed to make the All-Star game for the first time since his rookie season the 1999 game was cancelled it was fair to assume that Duncans best years were behind him.
Gregg Popovich recently downplayed the notion of a Duncan resurgence, saying hes playing the same way great as he has for the past decade and a half. Theres some truth to that, especially when you consider the metronomical consistency of his per-36 minute statistics.
At the same time, its fairly clear, both from studying the stat sheet and watching him play, that the 36-year-old Duncan is playing at an unexpectedly high level in his 16th NBA season. A look at his statistics:
18.9 points per game, highest since 2008-09.
9.7 rebounds per game, highest since 2009-10.
2.4 blocks per game, highest since 2006-07.
1.4 turnovers per game, fewest of his career.
5.4 free throw attempts per game, highest since 2008-09.
53.1 field goal percentage, highest of his career.
78.9 free throw percentage, highest of his career.
Per-game stats have become passe among the NBA cognescenti, and with good reason. But Duncans superior production is also reflected in his advanced numbers. Some of the highlights (all figures taken from BasketballReference.com):
28.9 player efficiency rating, best of his career.
.271 win shares per 48 minutes, highest of his career.
114 offensive rating, tying the best of his career.
91 defensive rating, best since 2003-04.
.586 true shooting percentage, highest of his career.
31.5 defensive rebound percentage, highest of his career.
6.0 block percentage, highest of his career.
8.1 turnover percentage, lowest of his career.
But wait, theres more.
While Duncan is taking more long jumper than ever (4.7 attempts between 16-23 feet, the most in seven seasons charted by HoopsData.com) hes rediscovered his aggressiveness in the paint. Not only only is he averaging 5.2 shots at the rim, the most in five seasons, hes converting at a ridiculous 80.6 percent. Thats almost 10 points better than any season in Hoops Datas database.
A couple of grains of salt.
* Sample size, sample size, sample size, sample size. (Did I mention sample size?) The Spurs have played only 8.5 percent of their 82-game schedule, meaning that a downturn is pretty much guaranteed as Duncan grinds through the marathon that is an NBA season.
* Theres also Duncans average of 30.1 minutes per game, knocking his value down just a tad from those capable of shouldering a heavier load. (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, etc.)
But when you hear people wondering if Duncan can compete for an All-Star berth, its clear we need to think about setting the bar even higher.
Frank Elegar's double-double lands him Player of the Week award among Virgin Islanders playing currently abroad: - 16 hours ago
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Here is the weekly review of the top performing U.S. Virgin Islands players, who play currently abroad. This week's number one is an international center Frank Elegar (208-86). He could not help Enisey (5-8) in their last game. Despite Elegar's very good performance Enisey lost 87-94 on the road to the lower-ranked (#9) Avtodor.
Here is the weekly review of the top performing U.S. Virgin Islands players, who play currently abroad.
#1. This week's number one is an international center Frank Elegar (208-86, college: Drexel, currently plays in VTB United League). He could not help Enisey (5-8) in their last game. Despite Elegar's very good performance Enisey lost 87-94 on the road to the lower-ranked (#9) Avtodor.
He had a double-double by scoring 27 points and getting 16 rebounds. Elegar also added 3 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals in 32 minutes on the court.
It was Enisey's third consecutive loss in a row.
Elegar has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages: 15.5ppg, 9.5rpg, 1.2apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 67.0%(59-88) and FT: 72.2% in 11 games he played so far.
Elegar has a dual citizenship: U.S. Virgin Islands and Guyanese.
He is currently a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands senior national team.
#2. Second place goes to an international point guard Walter Hodge (183-86, college: Florida, currently plays in France). Hodge led ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket to a victory over the league outsider Sluc Nancy (3-13) 84-71 in the French ProA last Saturday.
He was MVP of the game. Hodge recorded a double-double by scoring 21 points and making 11 passes. He also added 4 rebounds and 4 steals.
ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne Basket (9-7) is placed eighth in the ProA.
It's Hodge's first season with the team.
Hodge has relatively good stats this year: 12.9ppg, 2.3rpg, 6.6apg, 2FGP: 55.4%(51-92), 3FGP: 35.1% and FT: 77.6%.
He is another player who holds two passports: U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rican.
Hodge is in the roster of the U.S. Virgin Islands senior national team.
#3. The U.S. Virgin Islands player who performed third best last week abroad was an international forward Ivan Aska (201-90, college: Murray St., currently plays in South Korea). He was the main contributor in an ET Land Elephants' victory against the closely-ranked LG Sakers (13-18) 82-65 in the South Korean KBL on Sunday night.
Aska was the best player in that game. He scored 25 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and made 2 blocks in 35 minutes.
Inchon ET Land Elephants (17-15) are placed fifth in the KBL.
It was his team's third consecutive victory in a row.
Aska has very impressive stats this year: 15.5ppg, 5.7rpg, 2FGP: 54.3% and FT: 58.6% in 10 games.
He has both U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rican nationalities.
Aska is also a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands senior national team.
#4. An experienced forward Victor Cuthbert (197-83, college: Murray St., currently plays in South Korea) is a teammate of previously mentioned Ivan Aska. But that was another game of his team in South Korean KBL which we would like to mention.
Cuthbert contributed to an ET Land Elephants' victory against the closely-ranked KCC Egis (11-21) 71-61.
He was the top player that evening. Cuthbert scored 17 points, had 7 rebounds, passed 3 assists and added 3 blocks.
Inchon ET Land Elephants (17-15) are placed fifth in the KBL.
It was his team's third consecutive victory in a row.
This season Cuthbert has relatively solid stats: 11.1ppg, 8.2rpg, 2.1apg and 2.2spg.
He is also U.S. Virgin Islands national team player.
#5. International forward Justin Gray (198-95, currently plays college basketball in the States) contributed to a Texas Tech's victory against the Texas Christian University (0-2) 75-69 in the NCAA last Wednesday.
Gray recorded 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
The Texas Tech University has 2-3 conference record this season.
Gray is one of the most experienced players in a team as it's his fourth year in Texas Tech's roster.
His overall stats this season are: 9.4ppg, 5.2rpg and 1.8apg.
Gray plays currently for the U.S. Virgin Islands national team.
#6. Forward Javier Martinez (201-93, agency: DTMones, currently studies in the States) helped Tenn-Martin win their game against the Southeast Missouri State University (2-4) 79-69 in the NCAA in Saturday night's game.
He scored 12 points, had 4 rebounds and dished 4 assists.
The University of Tennessee at Martin has 2-2 conference record this season.
Martinez has been at the team for four years.
Martinez has reliable stats this year: 10.4ppg, 6.1rpg and 1.2apg.
He is an international player who is currently on the senior U.S. Virgin Islands National Team roster.
#7. International forward Jordan Murphy (198-97, is currently at the American university) was not able to help the Minnesota in their game against the The Pennsylvania State University (0-2) in the NCAA.
Murphy scored 7 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 17 minutes.
The Minnesota was edged 52-50 at home by the The Pennsylvania State University.
Murphy's stats this year are: 10.2ppg, 8.1rpg and 1.1bpg in 19 games.
He also holds two passports: U.S. Virgin Islands and American.
Murphy is also U.S. Virgin Islands national team player.
#8. Guard Angel Rivera (173-95, currently plays college basketball in the States) was not able to secure a victory for the Stetson (0-3) in their game against the Kennesaw State University in the NCAA. He cannot count Saturday's game as one of the best ones.
Rivera scored only 3 points in 22 minutes.
The Stetson was badly defeated 84-65 on their home court in DeLand, FL by the Kennesaw State University.
So far Stetson lost all three games in the conference This year Rivera's overall stats are: 8.3ppg, 3.7rpg and 5.6apg in 19 games.
He plays currently for the U.S. Virgin Islands national team.
#9. Former U17 international guard Stephaun Adams (190-96, currently plays college basketball in the States) couldn't help the Tenn Tech (3-2) in their game against the Jacksonville State University (1-5) in the NCAA. Adams cannot count Saturday's game as one of the best ones.
He scored only 2 points.
The Tenn Tech (#13) was defeated 74-59 in Jacksonville, AL by the Jacksonville State University.
Adams' total stats this season are: 3.2ppg, 2.9rpg and 1.8apg.
He used to play for the U.S. Virgin Islands U17 national team
four years ago.
The list of other players, who all have U.S. Virgin Islands passport but never been selected to any of U.S. Virgin Islands national teams:
#1.John Collins (208-F-97, currently plays college basketball in the States) led Wake Forest to an easy victory against the University of Miami, Florida (0-1) 96-79 in the NCAA last Wednesday.
Collins recorded 27 points (!!!) and grabbed 7 rebounds (made all of his nine free throws !!!) in 24 minutes.
The Wake Forest University has 1-4 conference record this season.
Collins has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages: 16.4ppg, 8.8rpg and 1.6bpg in 18 games he played so far.
#2.Khallid Hart (188-G, currently studies in the States) led Marist to a victory against the Niagara University (1-1) 93-87 in the NCAA on Monday night.
Hart scored 31 points (!!!).
The Marist College has 3-5 conference record this season.
Hart is one of the most experienced players in a team as it's his fifth year in Marist's roster.
This season he has very high stats. Hart averages: 17.6ppg, 2.6rpg and 2.7apg.
#3.Earl Thompson (196-G/F, currently plays in Canada) could not help the Brandon University (7-7) in their last game. Despite his very good performance the Brandon University (#9) lost 86-98 on the road to the Griffins.
Thompson was the top scorer with 31 points. He also added 8 rebounds in 36 minutes.
Thompson has very impressive stats this year: 15.5ppg, 8.6rpg and 1.7apg in 14 games.
He has a dual citizenship: U.S. Virgin Islands and American.
#4.Deon Edwin (190-G-92, is currently at the American university), who plays in the NCAA was not able to help the Kent St. (1-3) in their last game. Despite his very good performance the Kent St. (#15) lost 88-92 at home to the Western Michigan University.
Edwin scored 16 points, had 4 rebounds and dished 5 assists in 28 minutes.
Edwin has reliable stats this year: 12.3ppg, 4.9rpg, 2.1apg and 1.3spg in 18 games.
#5.Tony Aska (202-F, currently plays in NCAA2) was not able to secure a victory for the Southern Arkansas (4-5) in their game against the Arkansas-Monticello (9-0) in the NCAA2.
He scored 6 points, had 9 rebounds and made 4 blocks.
his team were defeated 96-87 in Monticello, AR by the Arkansas-Monticello.
It was Southern Arkansas' fourth consecutive loss in a row.
Aska's overall stats this season are: 7.4ppg, 7.2rpg and 2.1bpg.
#6.Jahmiah Simmons (193-G, currently plays college basketball in the States) contributed to an Arkansas St.'s victory against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock 77-72 in the NCAA in Saturday night's game.
He scored 7 points, had 5 rebounds and made 2 blocks in 23 minutes.
This year Simmons' overall stats are: 6.3ppg and 4.2rpg in 11 games.
#7.Kyle Clarke (196-G, currently plays college basketball in the States) couldn't help the Kennesaw St. in their game against the Florida Gulf Coast University in the NCAA.
He recorded 8 points and added 3 assists.
His team was edged 78-75.
Clarke's overall stats this season are: 4.8ppg, 1.8rpg and 2.4apg.
#8.Desi Rodriguez (198-F-96, currently plays college basketball in the States), who plays in the NCAA couldn't help the Seton Hall (2-4) in their last game. Despite Rodriguez's very good performance the Seton Hall was crushed 76-46 on their home court in South Orange, NJ by the Villanova University.
He scored 15 points and added 3 assists in 29 minutes.
Rodriguez has very impressive stats this year: 16.6ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.9apg and 1.3spg in 18 games.
By Sean Brennan In our latest installment of 'Getting To Know,' we chat up the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, Seton Hall's Desi Rodriguez(198-F-96). Desi dishes on why coming to Seton Hall along with his former teammate Isaiah Whitehead was a no-brainer, why he doesn't think he gets lost in the shadow of teammates Angel Delgado and Kahdeen Carrington, why Pirates head coach Kevin Willard thinks Rodriguez is a 'dog,' - and Desi agrees - why he may be a little 'crabby' off the court,... [read more]
By Sean Brennan In our latest installment of 'Getting To Know,' we chat up the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, Seton Hall's Desi Rodriguez (198-F-96). Desi dishes on why coming to Seton Hall along with his former teammate Isaiah Whitehead was a no-brainer, why he doesn't think he gets lost in the shadow of teammates Angel Delgado and Kahdeen Carrington, why Pirates head coach Kevin Willard thinks Rodriguez is a 'dog,' - and Desi agrees - why he may be a little 'crabby' off the court, why being the last team to defeat Villanova last season before the Cats' championship run is motivation for the Pirates this year and when we can expect a Seton Hall sighting in the Top 25.
BIGEAST.com: When you were playing at Lincoln high School in Brooklyn with Isaiah Whitehead, did you guys ever discuss going to college together or did it just turn out that way?
RODRIGUEZ: 'During our senior year when we started gelling and playing well together we definitely started talking about going to school together. I wanted to play with him and keep the combination going. So when Seton Hall offered me I didn't think twice about it.'
BIGEAST.com: So you, Isaiah, Khadeen Carrington and Angel Delgado arrive at Seton Hall like you're the Fab Four. Did you guys ever feel any pressure, because of the hype surrounding that recruiting class, to live up to the high expectations?
RODRIGUEZ: 'We didn't feel any pressure. We're all tough and aggressive and we're competitors so we didn't feel any pressure. We knew we could become great, so coming in together and working on our games and just playing together more has turned out well.'
BIGEAST.com: So Isaiah has left for the NBA, Angel is leading the BIG EAST in rebounding and is a double-double machine and Khadeen is second in the conference in scoring. Do you ever feel like maybe you get less attention than your teammates?
RODRIGUEZ: 'I don't look at it that way. I just want to play my game and help my team win and everything will come out of that. I let my game speak for itself and if people don't believe in my game, I don't pay any attention to that. I just come on the court, give my best effort and try to win games.'
BIGEAST.com: For someone who hasn't seen you play, what kind of player is Desi Rodriguez?
RODRIGUEZ: 'Coach (Kevin Willard) calls me a 'Junkyard Dog' and I think I'm that kind of guy. My all-around game has come around very well. I'm able to shoot the ball very well now and get to the basket. I'm an aggressive kind of guy and I'm competitive so I always want to guard the best player on the other team, if I get a chance. I'm a winning guy. That's always my goal. If I finish the game with two points and we got a win I'm still happy. I'm very unselfish and just want to win.'
BIGEAST.com: Tell me something about yourself that even Pirates fans don't know about you. Do you have any hobbies or hidden talents away from the court?
RODRIGUEZ: 'This year I got a new apartment and I've been cooking a lot. I'm a great cook now. A lot of people wouldn't know that I'm a great cook, but I am.'
BIGEAST.com: So what's your specialty?
RODRIGUEZ: 'Seafood. The other day I made some crab legs with shrimp and broccoli. Sometimes I cook for my teammates. We all cook for each other and see who is the best. It's like a competition.'
BIGEAST.com: When Isaiah left for the NBA what was your reaction and what do you say to people who thought Seton Hall would struggle this year without him?
RODRIGUEZ: 'It was weird. I was kind of depressed, but I was happy for him, too. I was depressed because I thought we could come back this year and be a top 10 team and win another (BIG EAST) championship. But we still have a chance to. We still have a great team. I'm happy for him the way he is playing (with the Brooklyn Nets). But it also opened up a lot of opportunities for the rest of us to get looked at and prove people wrong. A lot of people, with Isaiah leaving, said we wouldn't be the same team but I think we are. It's hard to replace Isaiah Whitehead, but then again we still have Khadeen Carrington, we still got myself, we still got Ismael (Sanogo) and we still got Angel and we added two freshmen (Myles Powell and Eron Gordon) and two transfers (Madison Jones and Jevon Thomas) and those guys are playing great for us. So we're looking forward to finishing the BIG EAST (season) strong and going into the BIG EAST Tournament and finishing that off strong, too.'
BIGEAST.com: Seton Hall won the BIG EAST Tournament last year and put the Pirates back on the map but then you lost your first-round NCAA Tournament game to Gonzaga. Did that leave a bad taste in your mouth and is that your motivation for this season?
RODRIGUEZ: 'Yeah definitely. All of us were nervous about that game. It was our first time in the NCAA Tournament and on the big stage. That was kind of a tough test for us, but knowing we were there last year and knowing the feeling of a bad loss makes us more hungry this year. Seeing Villanova take it all and knowing we were the last team to beat them, that kind of motivated us more. It's our goal to get back to the NCAA Tournament and try our best to win some games.'
BIGEAST.com: The other day against DePaul, you shot 9-for-9 from the field in the first half, including 5-for-5 from three-point range. Have you ever had a half like that before in your life on any level?
RODRIGUEZ: 'No. That was really exciting for me. I was kind of in the mode when I was making everything. I thought making my first two layups really got me going. My team got me the ball so me going 9-for-9, that came from my teammates knowing I was the hot hand and them going back to me. So I appreciate them.'
BIGEAST.com: If coach Willard said to you, 'Desi, I need 18-20 points from you,' are you the kind of player who could deliver that kind of production?
RODRIGUEZ: 'Yeah I think I'm capable of doing that. Teams scout us very well, especially me, Khadeen and Angel, so I take that in consideration and kind of let the game come to me. Coach always tells us don't go out there and try to force anything because it will mess up your game. But 18 points a night is something I could do just going off the offensive glass and getting out in transition.'
BIGEAST.com: Do you think fans around the BIG EAST and college hoop fans in general know who you are or do you feel you need a breakout year this season?
RODRIGUEZ: 'I think they know me very well. Some people call me 'Dunkin' Desi' and some people call me 'Long-Range Desi' so I think a lot of people know me and a lot of teams know me. I think last year was my breakout year and this year I'm trying to get some more recognition.'
BIGEAST.com: Four of the top 15 teams in the country are from the BIG EAST in Villanova, Creighton, Butler and Xavier. Are people going to see Seton Hall cracking the poll before long?
RODRIGUEZ: 'That's our goal, too, to get in the Top 25. Our conference is one of the toughest conferences. Every night we got to bring it. Every team in the BIG EAST is tough and competitive so we got to bring energy every night. We got a week-long road trip right now and we got to handle our business against Marquette (Wednesday night) and Providence (Saturday afternoon) and then we go to Villanova (Monday night). So as long as we take care of business the poll will put us in the Top 25. We just got to keep winning. If you keep winning everything else will fall into place.'
De'Quon Lake(208-C)< scored 38 points Saturday as Iowa Western raced past Central Community College 100-73 in men's basketball at Kanesville Arena. The 6-foot-10 sophomore made 17 of 19 shots from the field and collected 11 rebounds. 'De'Quon has been working hard, and it is nice to see that work pay dividends,' Iowa Western coach Michael Johnette said. 'He was special tonight. I was also pleased to see his teammates recognize that and get him the basketball.' Next up for the Reivers is R... [read more]
De'Quon Lake (208-C)< scored 38 points Saturday as Iowa Western raced past Central Community College 100-73 in men's basketball at Kanesville Arena. The 6-foot-10 sophomore made 17 of 19 shots from the field and collected 11 rebounds. 'De'Quon has been working hard, and it is nice to see that work pay dividends,' Iowa Western coach Michael Johnette said. 'He was special tonight. I was also pleased to see his teammates recognize that and get him the basketball.' Next up for the Reivers is Region XI rival Indian Hills, ranked 24th in NJCAA Division I.
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