Remember when Kevin Garnett was an easy-going, young and talented player nicknamed The Kid? Well, me neither. That seems like forever ago. That is mostly because it nearly is.
Garnett, now 38 years old, is in the twilight of his career, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the big man is done. What the Brooklyn Nets most be wondering, though, is if the (former) Big Ticket has anything of consequence left in the tank.
Garnett had a modest, albeit pretty successful, 2013-14 NBA season. He started every game he played, but the Nets and injuries prevented it from being anywhere near a full season. Instead, Garnett only managed to appear in 54 games (his fewest since the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season) for Brooklyn this season. Obviously some of that was by design because the Nets were gearing up for a huge playoff run.
Nevertheless, Brooklyn can’t afford to hope for another second-half run as they received this season after the All-Star break. Really, the Nets were partially lucky that they — aside from Brook Lopez — stayed healthy enough to put together such a run and not be forced to enter the playoffs with a horrible seeding.
Playing 54 games at 38 years of age is not horrible, though. It is actually a pretty smart move. Assuming it was by design, it could also help keep Garnett be little fresher for his last year under a Brooklyn contract.
Had they attempted to run him into the ground more, maybe they would be eating the entirety of his final year in Brooklyn. The fact that he only played 20 minutes per game as well lends one to believe that while everyone knew Brooklyn’s window of contention was short, that they may have planned on it being a two-year shot to battle the Miami Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy.
Using his lack of minutes on the floor does not completely explain away all his lack of production, though.
Garnett’s scoring dropped to a meager 6.5 points per game this year. Considering that Brooklyn didn’t run a ton of plays for him and 20 minutes per game doesn’t leave a guy a ton of opportunities to get his, 6.5 points per game is explainable.
It is the fact that the decrepit vessel that is Garnett’s corpse only shot .441 percent from the field that’s the problem. Even for a sometimes stretch 4 who shoots a lot of jumpers, shooting .441 percent is wretched for a big.
The dip in some of his numbers can be explained away via the lack of minutes. His rebounding going down to 6.6 per, assists to 1.5 and less than one block per game can easily be attributed to the lack of time on the floor.
Unfortunately, while those numbers are fine for a random roleplayer, it isn’t exactly spectacular for a guy who is making $12 million next season. And it is not like you can say Brooklyn is paying him for the playoffs because his minutes and production all stayed nearly identical.
I’m not saying Kevin Garnett has nothing left in the tank. He is still a pretty valuable and viable player in the NBA. His leadership alone could do wonders for any team in the league, even a Nets team who is as old as the idea of a John Cena heel turn.
The fact that he is Kevin Garnett, though, makes the expectations for him just a little big bigger, that’s all. It can’t be argued, however, that his minutes need to be even more limited next year, which will decrease even more of his production, and naturally lower his overall value as a player. Basically, if KG were a car the gas light would have just come on and there’s not a service station in over a thousand miles.
While the plan for the Nets and Garnett were designed for them to have immediate success and it didn’t work out to the degree Brooklyn fans were hoping, it wasn’t a complete failure. As the second-half of the year showed, Brooklyn is good enough to do damage in the lackluster East. Maybe they knew that while limiting KG’s minutes — while even in the playoffs — which they were hoping would result in a big return for them in the 2014-15 NBA season.
Then again, we all know what happens to one hand while you are hoping in the other.