Duncan consistently finds ways to amaze

Updated: November 5, 2004, 1:20 PM ET
By Terry Brown | NBA Insider
Somewhere between the Kevin Garnett coronation, the Detroit Pistons revolution, and Shaquille O'Neal's first merengue lesson, Tim Duncan anonymously slid back into the practice gym and became the absolute best basketball player on the planet so far for the 2004-05 season.

He didn't try any new tricks like behind-the-back passes or reverse dunks. He didn't dye his hair or add any body ink or pierce any extremity. Nor did he demand a trade, fire his coach or get arrested for jay walking.

He practiced his bank shot. Then he practiced it some more. Sometime in between, he worked in a few free throws. He did what Tim Duncan does.

In case you missed it, the Spurs power forward took 17.1 shots per game last year. He took 17.1 shots per game the year he won his second MVP award and his second NBA title. Over his career, he's taken, well, 17.1 shots per game.

To put that in perspective, Tracy McGrady averaged 23.3 shots per game last year.

Garnett averaged 19.6 while also leading his team in rebounding, steals, blocks and minutes.

Kobe Bryant averaged 18.1 with Shaq in the lineup.

Peja Stojakovic, a player who took 6.8 three-pointers per game, averaged 17.1 shots per game.

Duncan, the most-polished player on the planet, was taking the same amount of shots per game as some Eastern European sharpshooter.

And speaking of that career, he's played seven NBA seasons, made seven All NBA first teams and seven All-Defensive squads. He's won two league MVP awards and two NBA titles. The surprising aspect is that Duncan has averaged only 22.8 points per game over that career and never more than 25.5 in any one season. Those numbers are good, perhaps, great, but not immortal. They are not fitting for a guy described by the first sentence of this paragraph.