Commentary

What's left for Duncan, KG, Nash?

These three vets could be valuable free-agent pickups in the summer of 2012

Updated: August 4, 2011, 12:56 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | Basketball Prospectus
Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesBoth Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett remain dominant defensive players.

This week, Insider has looked at the stars of the 2012 free-agent crop, headlined by Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. In addition to them, another group of players would have inspired similar bidding wars had they been on the market a decade ago. Now that they're in their late 30s, age keeps them from being max-level players, but these free agents still can contribute to a team -- and could be valuable pickups when they hit the open market next summer.

Tim Duncan

Duncan's reputation has suffered for two reasons. For one, Duncan is inevitably compared to his own MVP prime, one that would be difficult to match for almost any player. Beyond that, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's careful handling of Duncan's playing time has prevented him from racking up impressive per-game statistics.

On a per-minute basis, Duncan's defensive numbers remain just as good as they were in his prime. Duncan no longer can make multiple defensive plays on the same possession -- such as stepping out to thwart the pick-and-roll before recovering to defend the basket -- but then again, neither can most big men.