Tim Duncan's early-season slump is a concern for the San Antonio Spurs. (Flickr.com photo/Keith Allison/Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.)

San Antonio Spurs: Concerns for Tim Duncan's Early Slump

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With a 13-2 record, the San Antonio Spurs haven’t had any noticeable holes in their game so far this season. They have won the majority of their games with relative ease, tied with the Indiana Pacers for first in the league in point differential at +12.1, and third in field goal shooting at 48.4 percent.

No player is averaging 30 minutes per game, as head coach Gregg Popovich has been able to give the veteran players the rest they’ll be thankful for when the playoffs come. Tim Duncan is averaging 27.4 minutes, but the efficiency we saw last season out of him has yet to make an appearance.

The 2012-13 All-NBA first team center, who everyone raved about when it seemed as though he found the Fountain of Youth that give him an unexpected career year, has gone missing and a 37-year-old big man on a noticeable decline has taken his place.

In the 13 games Duncan has played, he’s averaged 39.2 percent field goal shooting for 11.3 points per game to go with seven rebounds per game. That percentage is the worst of his career by nearly nine percent, and he’s already had some noticeably ugly games for the Spurs.

Against the Washington Wizards on Nov. 13 and the Boston Celtics on Nov. 20 he combined for 4-for-25 shooting for 16 percent overall. The shots he’s taken are from areas where he had success last season, but the slump so far has been pretty noticeable.

Last season, Tim Duncan shot comparable to the league average in the restricted area and was above average in his signature area for him jumpshot, the right elbow. Courtesy of NBA.com.

Last season, Tim Duncan shot comparable to the league average in the restricted area and was above average in his signature area for him jumpshot, the right elbow. Courtesy of NBA.com.

While the chart may look similar to last season, a closer look at the numbers shows that Tim Duncan just hasn't been able to get it together so far this season. Courtesy of NBA.com.

While the chart may not be completely opposite of last season, a closer look at the numbers shows that Tim Duncan just hasn’t been able to get it together so far this season. Courtesy of NBA.com.

Coincidentally enough, his best game so far came in the team’s only loss to the Portland Trail Blazers when he recorded 24 points on 52.2 percent shooting and seven rebounds

But as earlier mentioned, the Spurs haven’t needed Tim Duncan to play exceptionally well over this win streak. Boris Diaw has nearly doubled his output from last season, from 5.8 points per game to 11.2 points. Tiago Splitter has taken good care of the paint on defense, as he is second among big men playing at least 20 minutes per game for opponent field goal percentage at the rim with 32.8 percent. He’s also at 61 percent on effective field goal shooting.

Popovich has mentioned that the early portion of the season is the learning part of the season, as he expects the team play smarter as the season goes along. Duncan has never been one to need the learning curve to begin the season, but let’s hope this is all he’ll need so he can return to last season’s form as this year progresses.

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Tags: San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan

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