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SI names Tim Duncan the NBA's 5th best player

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An ode to his historical greatness or an accurate description of his current abilities?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As part of its Top 100 NBA Players series, Sports Illustrated has ranked Tim Duncan as the fifth best player in the league, tops among Spurs players.

As much of an impact Duncan had in the championship run last season, the No. 5 spot heading into the 2014-15 season seems more like a tribute to Duncan's legacy rather than an assessment of his current skills. He doesn't have the athleticism he once did, nor can he handle the minutes he played during his league MVP stretch, but it's his efficiency that has made him stand out for all these years and it keeps him in the mix of young players still reaching their prime.

As a result of Gregg Popovich's minutes management throughout the regular season, Duncan came through when the team needed him for extended playing time, such as the deciding Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He put up 19 points and 16 rebounds in 39 minutes, the second most he played in a game in the regular season and postseason last year. In a roaring Chesapeake Energy Arena, Duncan had his way with the OKC defense and scored seven points in overtime, giving the Spurs their chance at Finals redemption.

Duncan then dominated inside against the Miami Heat and averaged 15.4 points and 10 rebounds on his way to title No. 5. The series showed he possesses the game to lead a championship team on both ends.

Until Father Time actually catches up to him, there's no telling how much longer Duncan can keep this going.