NBA History: 50 best NBA players of the 21st century

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Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett, (Photo credit should read JOHN GRESS/AFP via Getty Images) /

Kevin Garnett. 6. player. 86. . PF. Minnesota Timberwolves

50 greatest NBA players from 21st century: 6. Kevin Garnett

While many remember Kevin Garnett for his championship run in Boston, the best basketball of his career was played in Minnesota. KG spent his first 12 seasons with the Timberwolves, seven of which came after the turn of the century. In that span, he won the MVP in 2004 and averaged 22.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.6 blocks on 49.3 percent shooting.

Garnett commanded both sides of the ball like few others. He was a gifted face-up scorer who could hit mid-range jumpers, score with touch at the rim, and pass better than your average 6-foot-11, 240-pound big. From 2004 to 2007, he led the NBA in rebounding four consecutive years. He was both arguably the NBA’s top defender and a good enough offensive talent to win MVP. The Wolves never accomplished much in the postseason, but Garnett’s standing in the league was well established by the time he was traded to Boston in 2007.

It didn’t take long for Garnett to find the success he hungered for with the Celtics. Joining forces with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Garnett led Boston to the championship in his first season with the team. He also won his first and only Defensive Player of the Year award that season. The Celtics sold the farm — seven players — to get Garnett. Clearly a smart investment, but also one that spoke to Garnett’s immense talent.

The Celtics were unable to climb the mountaintop a second time, but Garnett’s rèsumè was polished nicely upon his retirement in 2016. Garnett made 12 of his 15 All-Star appearances in the 21st century and was swiftly selected to the Hall of Fame when the time came. He was a two-way force unlike any other.