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Throwback Thursday: Kevin Garnett

It’s right there in the first sentence of the “About StS” page – we “strive to bring unbiased reaction, thoughts, and analysis.”  And that’s true, we do strive to set our personal preferences for or against certain teams or players aside in the overwhelming majority of our posts and updates.

But sometimes it’s just too hard.  Sometimes subjectivity almost inevitably gives way to its fun, emotional cousin.  This might be one of those times.  Figured a fair warning was necessary.

Kevin Garnett is the subject of Saving the Skyhook’s inaugural Throwback Thursday.

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Career Statistics:

  • 19.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.5 BLK, 1.3, STL
  • 49.8% FG, 78.9% FT, 28.4% 3PT
In-Prime Statistics:
  • Prime = 1998-2008
  • 21.3 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.6 BLK, 1.4 STL
  • 49.1% FG, 77.6% FT, 27.9% 3PT

League-Wide Awards/Accomplishments:

  • NBA Champion – 2008 Celtics
  • MVP – 2004
  • Defensive Player of the Year – 2008
  • Olypmic Gold Medalist – 2000
  • All-NBA 1st Team – 2008, 2004, 2003, 2000
  • All-NBA 2nd Team – 2005, 2002, 2001
  • All-NBA 3rd Team – 2007, 1999
  • All-Defensive 1st Team – 2011, 2009, 2008, 2000-20005
  • All-Defensive 2nd Team – 2007, 2006
  • All-Star MVP – 2003
  • All-Star – 1997-2011
  • All-Rookie 2nd Team – 1996
  • J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award – 2006
  • Only player in league history to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists per game for six consecutive season – 1999-2005
  • Only player in league history to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for nine consecutive season – 1998-2007
  • Only player in league history with 20,000 points, 11,000 rebounds, 1,500 blocks and 1,200 steals in his career
  • Fourth player in league history to win both MVP and DPOY in his career (Jordan, Olajuwon, D. Robinson)

Video Highlights:

The Kevin Garnett of today is the Kevin Garnett of yesterday.  The maniacal intensity, unmatched effort, and complete team-first mentality is all there as it’s always been.  But today, his game (though still among the league’s top few PFs) offers only fleeting glimpses of what it once was – the NBA’s very best.
While toiling away in his beloved ‘Sota, KG was doing things nobody at his size had ever done before – initiating the offense, taking his man off the dribble, hitting twisting 18 footers, and covering more ground on defense than thought humanly possible.  He was certainly the league’s most unique and arguably its best player from the new millennium to his first season wearing Celtic green, though his legacy won’t read as such.
KG’s prime aligned perfectly with those of true greats like O’Neal, Duncan, and Bryant as well as flashes in the pan like McGrady, Carter, and Iverson.  At no point was he universally considered the NBA’s top player, and the presence of such luminaries has as much to do with that as his underwhelming rate of postseason success in Minnesota.
One wonders how differently history would remember Garnett’s best days if he was surrounded by talent like Duncan was.  Watching those two battle every May was a yearly highlight of the early to mid 2000s.  Two big men equally elite on both ends of the floor representing where the game was headed and where it used to be.  To some, they’ll be forever linked as the one that couldn’t get over the hump and the one that always did.  And that’s a shame, because KG never had weapons like Robinson, Elliott, Ginobili, and Parker at his side.  If he had, it’s easy to imagine the additional titles, awards, and historical credit would be his instead of Timmy’s, and his rightful place among the game’s top 20 players of all time would be solidified.
But that’s now how it happened, and examining the real prime of KG’s illustrious, inspirational, finally-winding down career has to be done through a lens that highlights his individual greatness as opposed to the overall success of the Timberwolves.  If that’s done, ranking Garnett as the player of the 2000s is as easy as KG still makes it look defending a pick and roll.


Hardwood Paroxysm