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Kevin Garnett’s Underrated Career Reviewed by Momizat on . Kevin Garnett will one day be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame. He has been great for so long that it’s really a formality of sorts if you will. And fo Kevin Garnett will one day be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame. He has been great for so long that it’s really a formality of sorts if you will. And fo Rating:
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Kevin Garnett’s Underrated Career

Kevin Garnett will one day be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame. He has been great for so long that it’s really a formality of sorts if you will.

And for all of his talent and skill, he might go down as one of the most underrated players in NBA history.

Some might think that such a statement is ludicrous, but here’s my retort: would you ever make the claim that KG was at some point the best player in the association?

If you offer a definitive no to that question, then Garnett’s career is in fact underrated.

This isn’t to suggest that he was unequivocally the best player in the league at any point in his career, but an argument can sure be made that he was.

His playing days with the Minnesota Timberwolves are so far away that many have completely forgotten how dominant the Big Ticket was in those days.

In a league that housed Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan, Garnett had a two-year stretch where one could say he was not only the best player in the league but also its most dominant.

Indeed, throughout his career in Minnesota, the former league MVP was saddled with less than stellar teammates. While Kobe was playing with Shaq and Duncan was playing with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili; KG spent some of the best years of his career playing with the likes of Troy Hudson, Joe Smith, Rasho Nesterovic, Trenton Hassell, Ricky Davis, Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi to name a few. In case you’re wondering, yes they are all out of the league right now.

Nonetheless, the Wolves’ superstar managed to keep getting his team into the postseason every single year in an extremely competitive Western Conference from 1997 to 2004. His last three playoff teams in Minnesota all won 50 games or more.

Despite the lack of great players on the roster, the Timberwolves consistently made the playoffs thanks in large part to the play and ridiculous productivity of Kevin Garnett, who essentially was the Cleveland version of LeBron James before the Chosen One joined the league.

Have a look at the Kid’s numbers during his last five seasons in Minnesota:

Season

Games

PPG

RPG

APG

SPG

BPG

FG%

2002-03

82

23.0

13.4

6.0

1.4

1.6

.502

2003-04

82

24.2

13.9

5.0

1.5

2.2

.499

2004-05

82

22.2

13.5

5.7

1.5

1.4

.502

2005-06

76

21.8

12.7

4.1

1.4

1.4

.526

2006-07

76

22.4

12.8

4.1

1.2

1.7

.476

In the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons, Garnett led the league in player efficiency ratings (PER) by virtue of his stupendous nightly performances.

The future Hall of Fame player did it all: he scored on the low block and in the high post, rebounded in traffic, defended like a mad man and had the offense run through him, where he could make the lives of all his teammates easier by doing the heavy lifting and getting everybody else open shots.

To say the Wolves were completely dependent on Garnett might be underselling it.

In the one season that the Big Ticket finally had a great cast of teammates (2004-04 season), he owned the best plus-minus rating in the entire NBA. Indeed, with him on the court, the Wolves were plus-5.8; whereas when he was riding the bench, Minnesota was an abysmal minus-17.1 per 82 games.com. That was also the season he won his lone MVP award.

The Wolves made it to the Western Conference Finals that season but were eliminated by a Los Angeles Lakers team that featured Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal.

Garnett was a monster that postseason much like in every other one, but his team’s shortcomings made it as such that his performances were easily forgotten.

In a Game 7 victory in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Sacramento Kings, KG posted an absurd 32 points, 21 rebounds, two assists, four steals and five blocks on 12-for-23 field goal shooting; and in Game 5 of the conference finals against the Lakers, he notched 30 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block on 10-for-23 field goal shooting in a win.

The Wolves were later eliminated and then some of the players weren’t brought back and the team faltered in the following regular seasons despite the big man’s consistent play. He was later traded to Boston in the summer of 2007 where he continued to flash his brilliant all around game and he played at the same levels he displayed in Minnesota albeit in far less minutes (he averaged 32.9 minutes in his first season with the Celtics).

With Ray Allen making big shot after big shot and Paul Pierce taking over the majority of scoring duties during the 2008 postseason run, the Celtics brought back Celtic pride and won the title.

There’s no way around the fact that Boston needed every contribution from every player they received that season to win the championship, but no one held everything together truly the way Garnett did. When the big man hit the pine during the playoffs, the 2008 Celtics surrendered 96 points per 48 minutes on 45.5 field goal shooting; but when he was back on the hardwood, Boston yielded 86.8 points per 48 minutes on 41.8 percent shooting from the floor according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.

Think about that for a moment: with Garnett on the floor, some of the best teams in the NBA were scoring fewer points than the Washington Wizards are producing this season (89.2 points per game).

Very few players have been dominant on both ends off the floor, but the ones that have are easily considered to be amongst the best the league has ever seen.

And Kevin Garnett is one of them.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

About The Author

JM.Poulard

J.M. Poulard is the Warriors World editor. He is also a contributor to ESPN TrueHoop sites Forum Blue and Gold (Los Angeles Lakers), Piston Powered (Detroit Pistons) and Raptors Republic (Toronto Raptors). He has a particular fondness for watching Eastern Conference ball games and enjoys the history of the sport. Feel free to reach out to him on Twitter (@ShyneIV).

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