Tim Duncan didn’t want to play center, the legend goes, so he measured out at 6-11 barefoot before the 1997 NBA Draft and left it at that, even though most listed heights are with shoes. He was entering a league of dominant centers — Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing were aging, sure, but Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning were in their primes — and likely to be drafted by a team with its own, David Robinson.
So it was that Duncan began his career as a power forward and, through nearly two decades of stubborn resistance to reclassification — Matt Bonner is listed as a center to keep Duncan at the 4 — he now is recognized as the greatest power forward in NBA history.
And that’s where we come to the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs. And that’s where we talk about perhaps the greatest challenge of Duncan’s career and the first time where a positional label might matter.
The Spurs won this NBA offseason handily. They re-signed Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the exact deals they wanted, ensuring continuity and youth on the wings. They brought in the offseason’s biggest catch, four-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, on a four-year contract that should help keep this long, successful run going. They convinced David West to take a veteran’s minimum salary (about[……]