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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kevin Garnett's Legacy

It seems likely that this NBA offseason will be dominated by speculation about when/if two of the NBA's biggest stars--Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett--will be traded. Speculating about what might happen in various trade scenarios has never been my cup of tea, so I will wait until something actually happens on either front before offering any Bryant or Garnett trade analysis. It is much more interesting at this point to consider Bryant and Garnett's place in NBA history as things stand now. Regarding Bryant, that is pretty easy: if Bryant retired today, he would be remembered as a three-time NBA champion, a two-time scoring leader and someone who ranked among the top offensive and defensive players in the game. Garnett's legacy, on the other hand, is a bit more difficult to define. Yes, he won the 2004 regular season MVP and he has captured the last four rebounding titles but he has not made the All-NBA First Team since 2004. For quite some time, the main knock against Garnett was his inability to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves past the first round of the playoffs. In 2004--with significant help from Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell--Minnesota made it to the Western Conference Finals but since then there has been no talk about Garnett failing to advance past the first round because Minnesota has not even made it to the playoffs. That's right, the last time the "Big Ticket" played in a playoff game Shaq and Kobe were on the same team--and that seems like another lifetime ago. Garnett should be happy that so much attention has been paid to the breakup of the Lakers and the emergence of a new generation of young stars in the NBA that no one has really seriously raised the issue of Garnett basically disappearing from the upper echelon of the NBA since he won his MVP award.

Granted, Garnett has not been blessed with a tremendous supporting cast during most of his time in Minnesota--but young LeBron James just took a team that does not have a single All-Star all the way to the NBA Finals. Garnett has never publicly demanded to be traded and has only rarely voiced much criticism of Minnesota's front office for failing to improve his supporting cast. Garnett has generally been praised for his "loyalty," although ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has criticized him for not being more vocal about wanting to be traded. "Loyalty" is not the only possible explanation for Garnett's behavior, though. Maybe he really is content to finish his career in Minnesota, collecting huge paychecks while neither being criticized for failing to win nor having to deal with the pressure of leading a bona fide contender.

Garnett has put up gaudy numbers during his career--20.5 ppg, 11.4 rpg, 4.5 apg--but it could be argued that he has less impact on winning and losing then perhaps any other player who has ever won an MVP. Go through the list of MVP winners and try to find another one whose teams missed the playoffs for three straight years while he was healthy and in his prime. Garnett once boasted in a TV ad about how he puts up "20, 10 and 5" (referring to ppg, rpg and apg) year in and year out but one wonders if achieving those stats means more to him than putting up 50 (regular season wins) and 16 (the number of playoff wins it takes to win a championship). Tim Duncan seems utterly unconcerned with attaining certain specific individual statistical totals; he does whatever his team needs him to do to win on a given night.

Another problem for Garnett is that he does not control the paint defensively the way that great big men generally do. When Flip Saunders coached Minnesota, he often used Garnett at the top of the key in a 3-2 zone and Garnett was praised for his ability to hawk opposing point guards--but Garnett belongs under the basket blocking shots. Hakeem Olajuwon was even more fleet of foot than Garnett, as shown by Olajuwon's steals totals, but Olajuwon played underneath the basket and protected the paint--and led the Houston Rockets to two championships. No one would suggest that Duncan is more athletic or a better leaper than Garnett but Duncan has 1840 blocked shots in 746 regular season games (2.5 bpg) while Garnett has 1576 blocked shots in 927 games (1.7 bpg). Anyone who watched the Spurs sweep the Cavs in the 2007 NBA Finals understands that for every shot Duncan blocks there are several others that he alters with his presence.

Scottie Pippen, who played on six championship teams in Chicago and was on the 2000 Portland team that beat Garnett's Timberwolves 3-1 in the first round of the playoffs, once said of Garnett, "He's very productive but unproductive. He gets you all the stats you want, but at the end of the day his points don't have an impact on [winning] the game. He plays with a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm, but in the last five minutes of the game he ain't the same player as in the first five." Garnett is truly puzzling and contradictory. He undoubtedly plays hard and by annually leading the league in rebounding he shows a willingness to go inside and do the "dirty work." Yet, despite his work ethic he has never developed a go-to offensive move in the post. Garnett did not command enough respect from Cassell and Sprewell to keep them in the fold after the team's one successful playoff run. Garnett's numbers guarantee him a spot in the Hall of Fame but he seems to lack that certain something that the game's truly great players possess. He certainly is still young enough and healthy enough to be a major contributor to a championship team and if he does so then he will greatly change how he is perceived, much like John Elway did--but it just seems like Garnett is destined to be a guy whose statistical resume is impeccable but who will always have more explanations/excuses for postseason failure than examples of postseason success.

I said that I don't like to speculate about trades but I have to mention one scenario that would be fascinating, however improbable it may be due to the salary cap or other reasons: Garnett joining forces with Bryant on the Lakers. Garnett could continue to put up his cherished "20, 10 and 5" while Bryant took the responsibility of making the big baskets down the stretch in the fourth quarter--and Garnett would be productive enough in the first three quarters that Bryant would not have to wear himself out before the final 12 minutes.

posted by David Friedman @ 5:21 AM

43 comments

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43 Comments:

At Thursday, June 21, 2007 7:52:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

I agree that Garnett's style of play (his love of the perimeter, his lack of a strong low-post game, etc.) doesn't allow for him to have the same impact as other first rate players his size traditionally have. Looking at stats, one may conclude that Garnett and Duncan are equal, or Garnett may even be better. Watching a game, however, shows how Duncan's style of play enables him to do so much for his team outside of that boxscore. that KG doesn't.

At the same time though, the Wolves' roster has been bad for most of KG's career, and downright pathetic the last two years or so. If KG doesn't leave the Wolves soon, there will always be a big mystery regarding what he may have been able to do on a more talented team.

While I agree with the general arguement of KG's stats not having as much impact as those of others, I think it is unfair to rank players based too largely on team success. Far too often, NBA fans and media folks overlook the delicate balance of a team, and how big a role both luck and circumstance play in the team success a player enjoys. For instance, I've seen a lot of articles recently about other teams who could have or wanted to draft Michael Jordan (Blazers, 76ers, Rockets, etc.), and the authors always assume drafting Jordan would have led to a string of multiple titles for those teams. I may sound crazy for saying this to most people, but put in certain circumstances, even Michael Jordan could have gone ringless throughout his career. You need talented teammates, a sound coach and system, teamwork, health, and luck to win a championship. No one player can account for all of those things.

Oscar Robertson's Royals teams missed the playoffs 3 years in a row from 1968-70 in seasons where Oscar missed 17, 3, and 12 games. Of course, Oscar wasn't perfectly healthy, and he had many distingusihed postseasons before and after that stretch (certainly more than KG). It just goes to show though that one player cannot guarantee much for a team, sometimes not even a playoff appearances.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the entirety of Vednam's post. Garnett has generally had historically bad talent around him, in part because they've had no draft picks, and in part because McHale is just an awful GM -- if he were to have suffered a season-ending injury in any of the past few years, I'm guessing the T-wolves would have challenged for worst NBA record ever.

David notes that Kobe will be remembered as a three time champion. Yes, he will. But the Lakers haven't won a single playoff series since Shaq left. (And while he's had a weak supporting cast, it's better than what Garnett has generally had.) Should that diminish our view of Kobe? I don't think so.

David and Vednam make very good points about Garnett's seeming limitations -- the Weber-like lack of a go-to move in crunch time, his smaller-than-you'd-think defensive presence (at least relative to the all-time greats like Duncan). At the same time, rebounds and great passing out of the post sure are important.

I think it's unfair to imply that KG is some sort of stat whore, who cares more about his box score than victories -- his demeanor, his apparent selflessness on the court, and pretty much everything I've read about him suggest otherwise. I also think it's completely unfair to criticize him for not demanding a trade. Maybe he feels loyal to the city and fans that have supported him for so long. Maybe he's just old-school stoic, and thinks it's dishonorable to try to flee when things aren't going well. In any case, he'd be criticized just as hard -- "he's a me-first prima donna; that's why they don't win" -- if he did demand a trade. (This is a classic case of being able to fit any kind of behavior to a critical argument of KG.)

I too hope that KG gets traded somewhere, but I'd rather see him go somewhere where he'd have the chance to be the unquestioned main guy, with a decent supporting cast around him -- maybe Chicago, or even Boston assuming they kept Pierce. Bill Simmons wrote a while back that KG might be the best player in the history of the NBA, and we'll never know it. Simmons was making a rhetorical point, and exaggerating for effect, but it's true that we'll just never have a good yardstick for KG's greatness (or is it only "goodness"?) until we see him on a decent team, which he's been on exactly once. Is Peyton Manning really better than Archie Manning? Everyone assumes it, but we'll never know: The father was a great talent who was wasted and used up on one of the worst football teams, with one of the worst O-lines, ever constructed. I hope we'll get a chance to see what KG can do -- even if it's a little bit past his prime -- with a real team around him.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 12:06:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

kevin garnett is a great player he's never uplifted players on his team really because he's never had great talent like kobe bryant now bryant had the luxury of shaq early in his career and thats why he won pretty simple. kobe and garnett both have similar talent and both havent done much the last couple years, garnett has never had alot around him where suncan and everybody else has had alot around him. Lebron james played in a weak conference is why he could get that far with no all star.

if garnett played in the east he wouldda got pretty far as well consistently every year he played agianst teams that were always better than him. wasnt his fault just the way it was grat player just always had a bad circumstance or situation.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 3:09:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

If Bill Simmons really did say that KG may be the greatest player ever I surely hope that was exaggerated for effect; KG is nowhere near being even the greatest player at his position in his own era. Duncan is vastly superior to KG. I know that a lot of people would disagree but I would take Dirk over KG. I'd take this year's Boozer, with his polished back to the basket game, over KG, although I would like to see Boozer maintain this level of productivity for a few more years before I totally commit to that choice.

I'm not flat out accusing KG of being, as you put it, a "stat whore," but I think that it is legitimate to wonder why he is not more vocal about asking for help or asking to be traded. I'm not accusing him of anything; I'm just asking a question that needs to be asked at this point. Also, I have not criticized Kobe or anyone else for asking to be traded when they don't have enough help around them so don't make assumptions that I'd be criticizing KG if he went in the other direction.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 3:19:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

During the one extended playoff run that KG has had, Cassell was the obvious leader of the team. After a decade of KG basically leading the team nowhere I think that it is fair to at least ask if KG is really a bona fide number one guy. He almost seems like a more polished version of Rasheed Wallace, a very talented player whose mentality is better suited to being the second or third option.

It is just speculation to say what KG would have done in the East. LeBron has been in the league for four years and his team has improved each year, culminating in a trip to the Finals. KG has been in the league for more than a decade and has a less impressive body of postseason work than LeBron.

Yes, Kobe had the luxury of playing alongside Shaq but by the same token it must be said that Shaq had the luxury of playing alongside Kobe--there aren't that many players in the NBA who regularly make both the All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams. Kobe also got the job done many times in postseason games, as I have pointed out in recent posts/comments--he led the team to a Finals win over Indiana in overtime after Shaq fouled out and he had back to back games of 48 points, 16 rebounds and 45 points, 10 rebounds during the 2001 playoffs en route to the Lakers' second championship. I'm not saying that KG should have won three titles in Minnesota but it seems odd that for three years in a row a former MVP cannot even lead his team to the 8th playoff spot. The funny thing is that he gets less criticism for this than he got for losing in the first round each year. That is why I wonder if he hasn't simply found a comfort zone in Minnesota: he has his money, he has his stats and he has his MVP, so why should he push to go somewhere else and have to deal with the pressure of trying to win a title. I'm not saying for sure that he thinks this way--and he probably does not think that way consciously--but the reality is that this is what is happening to his career and he hardly seems to be moving heaven and earth to try to change things.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 3:23:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Vednam:

In 1968, Robertson missed 17 games and the Royals missed the playoffs by one game, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they would have made the playoffs that year if he had been healthier.

I agree with your general point, though, that circumstances matter even for the greatest of players and that Jordan would not necessarily have led any team to six championships. He actually did not win anything for several years until he got the perfect coach and the perfect All-NBA/All-Defensive Team sidekick; that is the same reason that I reject the idea that "anybody" could have teamed with Shaq and won three titles with the Lakers.

That said, and taking into account KG's lack of support--both from his various coaches and from his teammates--I still find his overall lack of impact somewhat stunning. Unlike Kobe, KG has won an MVP, so--in theory--he showed himself to be a "more valuable" player; my point is that I don't believe it. I didn't believe it in 2004 and I don't believe it now. KG is a very versatile and very skillful player but I question how much impact he really has. Minnesota went 32-50 with KG this year and KG, Ricky Davis, Foye, Blount and James were healthy; Kobe led the Lakers to 10 more wins despite Odom, Walton, Brown, Radmanovic and others battling injuries and despite having an NBDL level point guard. While the Lakers' roster MAY look better on paper than Minnesota's, I would question whether the team that they were actually able to put on the court was really that much better than Minnesota's. Taking a longer range view, KG has missed the playoffs three straight years, with no end in sight. The Shaq-less Lakers have made the playoffs the past two years and were on track for the playoffs in the other one before Kobe and Odom got hurt.

So, while I do agree that even a great player cannot guarantee anything, I still find KG's conspicuous lack of success somewhat incongruous to his reputation.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 7:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simmons clearly doesn't really think KG is the best player ever. (In fact he uses a quote, sympathetically, of a former T-wolf and friend of his to get that straw man out there -- I misremembered.) He places KG 4th all-time among power forwards, after Duncan, Barkley, and Karl Malone. But one of his his larger points in that column (which is worth reading and easily found on the ESPN web site) is that it's awfully hard to compare KG to other great players because he's had such unusually terrible support (he hasn't had the benefit of a great coach either). That's the point I'm trying to make as well -- not that KG is the best ever. If that's what you think I meant, I didn't. (Nor did I say it.)

You can't make too much out of stats alone, but I do find it significant that KG has generally been at the top of the league in PER throughout his career -- though he slipped a bit this year -- and that he's been by far the league's most productive player according to Dave Berri's "wins produced" metric. A simpler metric, which I frankly find harder to discount, is the plus/minus. Even this year (a down year for KG), KG's plus/minus per 100 possessions was plus 14.5 points. Duncan's was 14.2, Nowitzki's 13.0, Lebron's 8.6, and Kobe's 5.9. (This is from 82games.com -- +/- per 48 minutes look a little different, but tell essentially the same story.) Could this be influenced somehow by the fact that KG's team is really bad? Well, I don't know. But he often leads the league in +/-. And whether or not you think Cassell was the "clear leader" in 03-04, the one year the Wolves had a decent team around Garnett, KG led the league in +/- in that year too. (If memory serves, he also scored over 30 points and grabbed over 20 rebounds in Game 7 against the Kings.)

In forming opinions of NBA players, I tend to trust the opinions of people who make a living analyzing the NBA first (at least where opinions generally align, and where their arguments are cogent), the stats second, and my own unschooled observations third. But where the stats tell a very different story from expert opinion, I tend to be more cautious about fully accepting that opinion. (I find it significant that many bookies only look at stats when making book, and refuse to watch the games, at least in football -- "your eyes lie", many say. And that until the stats became sophisticated enough to pretty much definitively refute the proposition, most baseball experts were adamant that Derek Jeter was a great defensive short stop.) When the experts are placing so much credence on team success in evaluating those players, despite vastly different overall talent levels on those teams, I become more cautious still.

That's why I'd like to see KG on a real team (for more than one year, and when he doesn't run into a dynasty featuring two certain Hall of Famers in their primes) before I'll fully and unhesitatingly accept statements like "Duncan is vastly superior to Garnett" -- it's the adjective I hesitate over in that case -- or that Nowitzki or Boozer are better players at all.

Anyway, enough bloviation.

-Don

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 8:28:00 PM, Anonymous Mateo said...

You're all insane. Garnett is one of the greatest players of all time, and probably the most underrated players of all time, if for the simple fact that so many people strangely are unable to recognize that he's one of the greatest players of all time. Stop evaluating basketball players the way that you evaluate tennis players. Basketball is a team sport. You can nitpick areas where Garnett is weaker than some other players - basically saying that you expect perfection out of Garnett for some inexplicable reason. He's probably the most versatile player of all time, but since he's not perfectly versatile (great in every area), he's then faulted for it.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 10:41:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

thank you david kevin garnot is vastly overrated to me and everybody makes excuses for him. as skip bayless says he likes tarzan but plays like jane, he only been out of the first round one time in 12 years? and people will tell you or put him ahead of kobe as the 3rd best player of the era behind duncan and shaq i know charles barkley said that for sure and there some otheres penalizing kobe for playing with shaq.

garnett puts up great numbers but there not impactful he doesnt elevate other players, and as you and bayless said sam cassell was the leader of the team the only year he got out of the playoffs in 04. he's a big guy who plays like a 2 guard he takes too many jump shots and not the defensive force he should be too me. kobe gets criticized because he wants to be in a winning situation now he's throwing tantrums and keep putting pressure on the organization GOOD.

why hasnt kg ever done what kobe is doing now especially when people are begging him to do it and telling him if you ask to be traded you wont be SELFISH for it. He doesnt want to go to boston as we see now. got to ask yourself is winning number 1 to him or is he happy in minnesota freezing to death loseing every year i dont know but this feel sorry for kg stuff is sickening please ask to be traded kevin or i guest just rot in minnesota.

One more thing he should go to la like vince carter and c webb he not aggressive enough to take over games and close them. he would be a perfect compliment to kobe and finnally be forced to play inside where he should play anyway. he's a number 2 guy behind a jordan kobe type player if he was a number 1 option it would showed by now as you said.

 
At Thursday, June 21, 2007 10:42:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

i meant to say llok like tarzan play like jane

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 12:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

The varied and highly interesting comments that this post provoked only serve to reinforce my statement that KG is "truly puzzling and contradictory." After all, there aren't that many players who some would describe as "vastly overrated" while others would say that he is "one of the greatest players of all time, and probably the most underrated players of all time." To address the latter comment first, I suppose it depends on how "greatest players of all-time" is defined. KG is an MVP winner and a four-time rebounding champion and those two things alone put him in fairly elite company. If the NBA redid the Top 50 list or expanded that list to 60 or 75, KG would most likely make the cut on most people's ballots. To me, though, "greatest of all-time" is top 10 or 12 or 15 at the absolute most--the player must "make the cut," so to speak, if we are putting together an actual roster size list from among everyone who has ever played. There is no way that KG makes my top 15 all-time or even enters into the discussion.

KG does consistently rank highly in +/- and that certainly means something but most of that seems to stem from the "-" side--how poorly the team does when he is not on the court. That reflects what we all know and acknowledge, that KG has generally been saddled with a bad supporting cast.

Don, I couldn't figure out from your comment if you were classifying me as an "expert" whose opinions you trust or someone whose eyes are "lying" :) Seriously, though, I think that most people who cover the NBA for a living and most people who are involved in making personnel decisions for NBA teams probably have a somewhat higher opinion of KG than I do. Mind you, I'm not saying that KG is terrible or anything; I just don't think that he is quite as great as many people do and I also think that his game and his temperament are both better suited to being in a secondary role. One of his biggest problems is that his "name" and his contract make people perceive him as a franchise player. I simply do not see him ever being "the guy" on a championship team--not now, not five years ago and not any time in the future. I can see him being a very valuable contributor to a championship team in the right circumstance, though.

I realized when I wrote it that "vastly superior" is a strong statement to make about Duncan versus KG but I stand by it and I'll tell you exactly why. Duncan has a full arsenal of back to the basket offensive moves, plus a faceup game. His assist numbers do not reflect it but he is every bit as good a passer as KG is and he regularly picks apart double-teams; this is the part of Duncan's game that has probably grown the most since he first came into the league. Duncan is physically stronger than KG, so he can guard centers or power forwards without being pushed around and Duncan is much more of a shotblocking deterrant at the rim than KG is. Duncan's regular season numbers are generally suppressed a bit because Popovich keeps his minutes down but I can't imagine a circumstance in which I'd rather have KG over Duncan. That makes it sound like I'm saying that KG is terrible but I'm not saying that at all; I'd take KG over most of the power forwards in the NBA but Duncan is the gold standard--the best of all-time at the position in my opinion.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 12:50:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Mateo:

To get back to your point again, I'd be interested to know why specifically you think that KG is one of the greatest players of all-time and if you really would place him in the top 15, which would be my cut off for that distinction (if you are putting him in the top 50 or 75 then we really are only disagreeing about semantics).

I acknowledge that KG is a versatile player who is a consistently outstanding rebounder but I can't put him up with the best of the best in light of his deficient back to the basket game, his subpar shotblocking (relative to his size and athletic ability) and the lack of impact that he seems to have on team success despite his solid statistics.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 1:57:00 AM, Blogger jeff smith said...

kg has never had great players around him i think personally it is a little unfair to say he cant be the guy on a championship. if he never played with another great player and you would have to say the same for kobe he wasnt the guy on his championship team david hypricritcal of you to say that and kobe has never lead a team past the first rounds 3 years without shaq with similar talent to kg.

marcel as far as kobe being a closer. lmao lol kg would have to close for the lakers if he went there this is kobe second half numbers in 4 of the 5 games vs the suns in the playoffs 40 points in or 10 points a second half in the 4th quarter 5 points a quarter he shot 31 percent in the second half and 29 percent in the 4th quarter he didnt close anything. kg is a great all around player and skip bayless doesnt know nuthing about basketball either. kevin has not had the players around him to be tim duncan or shaq he could be though give him those players and lets see then

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 2:05:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

Once again, you completely miss the point. The reason that Kobe's second half numbers went down versus Phoenix is because he got worn down from carrying the team earlier in the games. Of course, Kobe would never admit that he was tired, but Jackson alluded to it during the series, the announcers mentioned it and anyone with two eyes could plainly see that Kobe ran out of gas down the stretch because he had to use so much energy early in the games. THAT is why if the Lakers had KG that Kobe would be a better closer, because KG would do enough in the first three quarters that Kobe would not be worn down by the end of the game. Kobe could even actually sit out a minute or two without the other team going on an 8-0 run. When Shaq and Kobe were on the same team, Jackson often used Kobe as a fourth quarter closer because Shaq is a bad free throw shooter and cannot create his own shot, while Kobe can create a shot for himself (or his teammates) and is an excellent free throw shooter.

We have seen Kobe do well in a closer role on three championship teams, so we know that Kobe can do this. KG much prefers to get his numbers early in the game and have someone else take care of the responsibility of making big shots down the stretch.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 2:06:00 AM, Anonymous BC Beneke said...

I live in Minnesota, and I've been a Wolves fan from the Pooh Richardson days where the highlight of the game was getting to listen to the play by play guys.

Is KG the best PF ever? I don't think it's fair to say that when Duncan has championships, and similar numbers. I agree though that the Wolves have not had great coaching, but Flip Saunders was not a terrible coach...

This problem lies at the feet of Kevin McHale, who is responsible for some terrible trades. He is also responsible for not putting enough effort and man power into drafting talent, but to his defense he did have his illegal contract with Joe Smith to keep him from wasting 1st round picks for 3 years.

His decision making skills are unequalled by anyone short of the man in the white house for ineptitude. Thanks to the draft this year in the NFL, Matt Millen who was McHale's only competition in ineptitude has taken a step back, and allowed Mcfailed-miserably to become the worst GM in all of major American sports.

Back to KG though... He is the best all around ball player in the NBA since Magic, Bird, and Jordan... his numbers, and his passion... his clean cut, and respectable image...

Kevin Garnett is one of only a handful of HERO type players in the NBA. He is a role model on and off the court.

I would give anything to be able to turn back time and see what the Team would have been like if McHale was fired after the Joe Smith fiascal. Would we have drafted better than the point guard that no one remembers from DUKE, or Ebi the man who played about 180 MINUTES in his career?

Could the Timberwolves have actually used one of their second round picks to at least pick up a player that could play some minutes? Craig Smith has played 1 season with the Timberwolves, and he is already the 2nd best 2nd round pick in team history. Doug West was a bit more, but Smith has only had one season.

KG is a team player, and I saw what you people in the national media did to LeBron James when he would pass the ball in the last few seconds to the OPEN player just like a team ball player should. You people perpetuate the BS that is the NBA now.

No one ever talked about Michael Jordan's defense, just his dunks were shown on ESPN, and everyone other than Garnett seemed to want to be like Mike... a ball hogging dunk machine. Michael Jordan didn't win squat until he had Pippen.

Where is Garnett's Pippen?

Bird won because he had McHale, Parish, DJ, and so many other pieces.

Magic Johnson had amazing talent around him, and he was so amazing he made players like Rambis look good.

The Timberwolves had a guy in Marbury, they had Cassell and Spreewell... but more importantly they all left because of money, and in spreewell's case good riddence... I wonder if he's cashing welfare checks so he can feed his familiy?

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 2:24:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

B.C.:

I agree that McHale has done a poor job of surrounding KG with a good supporting cast. On the other hand, neither Marbury nor Cassell nor Sprewell went out of their way to stay with KG, either; guys seem willing to sacrifice money, playing time and scoring average to play alongside Shaq and Duncan. Granted, Marbury and Sprewell may have simply been exercising bad judgment and Cassell probably wanted a last big payday before he became over the hill but I don't see guys acting like they'd do anything to play alongside KG. The brief rise and equally quick fall of the Clippers coincided with Cassell being healthy and then not being healthy. Without Cassell, I doubt that KG would have made it out of the first round even in his MVP year.

No way is KG the best player in the NBA since Bird, Magic and Jordan. Shaq and Duncan are the two dominant players of the post-Jordan era and have won all of the titles except for the one that Detroit grabbed. Kobe is the best overall player since MJ from the standpoint of having the most complete game; as I have explained several times, when I say this I am speaking not as a fan but as an analyst, looking at players the way scouts and player personnel people do: Kobe can shoot, pass and dribble with either hand, finishes well at the hoop, rebounds well for his position, is an excellent defender and so forth--reasons that I have listed and explained at length in several posts here. KG is not the second best player in the post-Jordan era, either. Keep in mind that he is perfectly healthy, in the prime of his career and has neither made the All-NBA First Team nor even qualified for the playoffs in three years. Other than his rebounding titles, if aliens had kidnapped KG and he hadn't appeared in an NBA game for the past three years you would hardly have to rewrite any of the history of that time period. Was there ever a three year period during the prime of Bird, Magic or Jordan's career during which they had such little impact on the NBA?

It's great that KG plays hard and he certainly seems to be a respectable, clean cut guy--but for $20 million a year (or so) aren't you supposed to play hard and stay out of trouble? Admittedly, many athletes seem to have trouble doing those things but do you really deserve extra credit for trying your best and being well behaved?

Count me out from your blanket criticism of those who blasted LeBron. Go back and check what I wrote at the time; I did not go along with the pack at all on this issue and criticized Kenny Smith, Magic and Reggie--all three of whom I respect--for their takes on LeBron's decision to pass.

We all agree that KG has been stuck with a substandard supporting cast. No one is saying that he should have won three titles--or even one--so far, but the guy can't even carry a team to the eighth seed once in three years and he hardly seems to be chomping at the bit to change the situation. If he's not happy, he's certainly at least content to cash his checks and let the chips fall where they may.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 2:28:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I should add that I agree completely with your praise of Scottie Pippen's vital role on the Bulls' championship teams--but Jordan, unlike KG, was at least able to take some pretty mediocre teams to the playoffs, even if they lost in the first round.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 3:04:00 PM, Anonymous taijes said...

Why couldn't KG & Kobe be teammates in Minnesota?? Finance wise, Taylor would have to be beyond stupid to trade Kevin. He wouldn't be able to give tickets away then.

Kevin Garnett's legacy will be one of selflessness, heart, passion, effort, determination and pride. Minnesota has already lost most of our athletic icons--Kirby, Randy, Duante...and it sounds like Torii is on his way out now too--so of course, we have to lose Garnett also. People seem to attribute loyalty as a character flaw and I just don't understand that.

In the end, we cannot know another's mind or what is in their hearts. Kevin deserves a championship, yes. In a perfect world, he will win one as a Timberwolf. If it never happens then at least he can look himself in the mirror and say he was a man who stood with his team--and do not doubt, this always has been and always will be K.G.'s team--and he brought life and hope and pride to a franchise that desperately needed a superstar.

That is his legacy.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 3:55:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Taijes:

I understand your feelings as a Minnesota fan. My point is that KG, a former MVP, has not had the impact--particularly in the past three seasons--that one would expect from a player of his stature.

KG and Kobe will never be teammates in Minnesota because the only asset that Minn. would have to trade for Kobe would be KG himself. There had been some talk a while ago of Minn. trading KG to the Lakers for several players but it does not appear that this will happen.

It is interesting to consider if what is described as KG's loyalty is really in his own best interest and in the best interest of Minnesota. One of three things will likely happen in the next year:

1) KG will be traded
2) KG will play a year for Minnesota and then go elsewhere as a free agent, with Minnesota getting nothing in return
3) KG will play a year for Minnesota and then re-sign with the team, finishing his career there.

KG has played for Minnesota for more than a decade and never led the team anywhere. The question now is what is best for the team's future. A deal with Boston for Jefferson, other players and the # 5 pick would seem to be a win-win situation for KG and Minnesota but KG just nixed that proposition, leading one to wonder what exactly he wants. I don't see Minnesota being able to arrange a deal that is much better than that. Does that mean that KG is so loyal that he plans to spend the rest of his career in Minnesota? Or is he simply setting the stage to walk away a year from now, leaving the cupboard in Minnesota completely bare?

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 4:55:00 PM, Anonymous taijes said...

He didn't get along with Wally Szerbiak (I don't know how to spell his last name LOL) when Wally was here, so I assume that's a big reason for his refusal of Boston. And I'll cut you some slack about the Minnesota doesn't have anything for Kobe comment only because I feel L.A. don't have anything to offer Kevin. What we think don't matter though.

I like your last option the best and I make no secret of that either. I'm trying to not get too catty here, but you gotta admit, this "trade K.G" talk is getting awfully tiresome. I agree with you on Tim Duncan is one of the greatest ever, but it's also pretty easy to impress when you have a David Robinson or a Tony Parker as a teammate. I wonder what opinions would be if they had never been teammates? (Don't get me wrong, I don't mean any disrespect to Duncan, but I gotta stick up for my guy!)

The only thing I would change about Kevin is I wish he would be more selfish with the ball. He needs to score at least 30 points a game if the Wolves hope to do anything.

Listening to different interviews, I wonder if he ever would opt out. Think of what he would be giving up, for no guarantee of a championship. To be the face of a franchise, one of the most loved people in a state, a leader, and one of the best paid athletes out there and go to a team where he's just another guy shopping for a ring. Look what happened to Malone. But people are going to say he was less of a player than he actually was because he never won a ring?? That's just not right and people know that.

McHale has got to go. The franchise will never go anywhere but downward while he is running the show. And I think that's what makes me the most angry of all.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 6:24:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

kg needed more help and minnesota only one year they gave it to him andd they got 2 games from the finals. it looks like he will be traded to lakers or phoenix he could pair with kobe be a good fit kobe could play on the perimeter and garnett on the inside it would take some pressure off kobe but they might have to keep lamr just because teams now have 3 good player duncan parker ginobilo nash marion stoudamire terry howard dirk. and they will have to probably trade odom as well. kobe usually a good closer but in the phoenix series he closed teribly and played terrible in the 4th quarters so kg could help kobe out in the 4th and secondhalf of playof gmaes as well.

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 6:25:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

my spelling was bad i go so fast oh well

 
At Friday, June 22, 2007 11:20:00 PM, Blogger Mateo said...

David:

Garnett does have a "full arsenal of back to the basket moves", including some that Duncan doesn't have (or at least doesn't use all that often), such as the slippery eel. The Wolves pass the ball to him on the left block most of the time as their first option. But I think your point is that "Garnett shoots more jumpers than Duncan", which is true, but completely irrelevant. Since his jumpers go in at about the same frequency as Duncan's lay-ins, it doesn't matter. 2 points is worth 2 points regardless of how you score them.

As for the "Jordan at least took some mediocre teams to the playoffs, even if they lost in the first round" comment... What did you call the Minnesota teams from the late 90s through 2003? Those were good teams? The 2003 team was the 4th seed IN THE WEST, and Troy Hudson was the 3rd best player. Give me a break, if that's not a mediocre team I don't know what is.

I hate to be the broken record, but basketball is not tennis.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 5:19:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Taijes:

The Wally thing (note how I got around the spelling issue!) could be why KG nixed going to Boston but I think that other, bigger things are at work--namely that KG either wants to name where he goes or perhaps he simply wants to stay in Minnesota, either for good or until he becomes a free agent and can choose his destination. I don't pretend to know which of the three options that I listed will actually happen but KG nixing the Celtics deal makes me believe that he will stay in Minn. this year, because if he didn't like that trade I don't think that he will like anything else that is likely to come up either.

You are correct that just as Minn. has nothing to offer for Kobe other than KG that the same could be said about the Lakers. The bottom line is that no matter how you look at it or describe it there is not a realistic scenario that involves Kobe and KG both playing for Minnesota or L.A.

Duncan is the only constant (other than Popovich) on all four Spurs' championship teams, so there is pretty solid evidence that he can win big with a lot of different supporting casts. Admittedly, he has consistently been surrounded with better talent than KG has but I also think that Duncan has made better use both of his talent and the talents of those around him. As you mentioned, KG feuded with Wally and I think that he has feuded with others, too. The Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith recently made a great point about Duncan, saying that if Duncan had played with Kobe that he would never have feuded with him the way that Shaq did and that Kobe would have respected Duncan more than he respected Shaq because Duncan works on his game just as hard as Kobe does. KG is a very good player who has put up nice numbers but to me Duncan is just in another class. I understand and appreciate that Minnesota fans who have enjoyed watching KG for more than a decade will not be inclined to agree with me about this.

I wonder if KG really could score 30 ppg with the offensive arsenal that he has. He has never averaged even 25 ppg in a season and without either a true post up game or a legit three point game he would have to make an awful lot of turnaround midrange jumpers to average 30 ppg. I'm not sure that Minnesota needs him to score more as much as the Timberwolves need him to make key shots down the stretch in close ball games.

I don't necessarily say that KG is less of a player because he has not won a ring; the more troublesome thing is that he has never really gotten close to winning one and that in recent years both he and Minn. have become almost completely irrelevant--as I wrote, he has not made the All-NBA First Team and Minn. has not made the playoffs since his MVP year. If a player is not making the All-NBA First Team during his prime years then it is hard to think of him as an all-time great. There are some exceptions to this--Sam Jones and Hal Greer had a tough time in the 1960s when Robertson and West owned the First Team guard slots--but when you go back and look up the best of the best you will find that they racked up many All-NBA First Team selections. KG has three such selections, which is not bad but does not compare to Karl Malone (11), Bob Pettit (10), Elgin Baylor (10), Larry Bird (9), Tim Duncan (9) and Julius Erving (9--five NBA, four ABA), who would make most people's lists (not necessarily in that order) as the very best forwards of all-time.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 5:40:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Mateo:

I know that KG often operates from the left block--or at least starts his move there--but he does not have the overall low post game that Duncan does. The general reason I say this is that Duncan's offensive game is primarily about going to the hoop, while KG's game is primarily about fading away from the hoop. Here are some specific indicators of this:

1) Duncan averages 7.5 FTA/game during his career; KG averages 5.2 FTA/game during his career. Why is this important? Drawing fouls gets the other team in the bonus and gets their players in foul trouble, both of which soften up the opposing defense and create scoring opportunities for Duncan's teammates (non-shooting fouls result in free throws because of the penalty and players who are in foul trouble end up playing tentative defense and/or have to sit out for a period of time).

2) Duncan averages 3.2 offensive rebounds/game during his career; Kevin Garnett averages 2.8 oreb/game during his career. Granted, this is not a huge difference but this is also a byproduct of going to the hoop as opposed to fading away from the hoop.

3) By generally staying on the block and going toward the hoop, Duncan draws double-teams that free up shots for his teammates. KG tends to face up from outside or fadeaway from the block and neither of those situations demands a double-team. Of course, because KG is a talented player he still sees double-teams a lot anyway but he does not pose the same threat to the defense where he operates from that Duncan does.

I know that KG shoots a good percentage and puts up gaudy assists totals, so many people will refuse to accept the idea that he is not as effective as Duncan. Again, let me emphasize that I am not saying that KG is a bad player; I'm saying that he is not as good as someone who I (and many others) consider to be the greatest power forward of all-time.

As for taking mediocre teams to the playoffs, yes it is true that KG did this on occasion but my point is that KG and Minn. have fallen completely off of the map the past three years. The more I look at that and think about it the more amazing it is to me that more has not been said about this by others.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 5:46:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

While the idea of Kobe and KG playing together is very appealing, the reality is that it is very unlikely to happen because neither the Lakers nor the T-Wolves could get enough in return.

If KG ends up in Phx., which does not sound likely at the moment (if you believe ESPN's Ric Bucher), the Suns would have to give up so much that they would not be better off in the end. I definitely would prefer to have Amare at this stage than KG--Amare is younger and he attacks the hoop on offense. As for KG versus Marion, I give KG a slight edge at best at this stage of their careers.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 9:12:00 AM, Anonymous Mateo said...

Of course they haven't made the playoffs the "past 3 seasons". They haven't been a mediocre team the past 3 seasons, they've been a terrible team the past 3 seasons. From 1998ish through 2003 the Timberwolves maintained a mediocre team with 3 or 4 decent players. They then rebuilt quickly, around old players, and had 1 good team. When that inevitably fell apart they were left with nothing. Now they Garnett, Ricky Davis, and Craig Smith in that order. It's not a mediocre team, it's a terrible team. Give me one reason why this team should be better than any of the 8 teams which actually did make the playoffs.

As for the argument you make about the style, this is another example where people have unrealistic standards for Garnett. Because Garnett is not better at literally every aspect of the game than another player (in this case another great player), then he therefore can not be as good (or about as good) overall. It's just ridiculous. Yes, Duncan goes towards the hoops moreoften. And yes he gets fouled more often. Does this have some positive effect on the game? Probably. But this advantage Duncan has in getting to the free throw line -- whatever this immeasurable advantage is -- is negated by the fact that Duncan doesn't hit his free throws and Garnett does.

The double team argument doesn't make any sense. Both players draw double teams, so I'm not sure why you were even bring this up. Garnett, being further away from the basket, would actually be in a better position to give his teammates open shots. Duncan frees up jump shooters, Garnett frees up cutters. Lay-ups being a higher percentage shot than jumper shots, you'd have to give Garnett the advantage in this category.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 12:32:00 PM, Blogger jeffsmith said...

i like sam smith but the relationship between shaq and kobe was not based soley on shaq not being in shape they won 3 rings 4 finals in 5 years kobe aint done nuthing without shaq now. and shaq would probably appreciate playing with wade when he was in his prime because he doesnt have the ego kobe had and he would be fine with being shaq sidekick where kobe wasnt that was also a big reason the relationship didnt work kobe didnt want to play that part anymore. and honestly never really did remember the 2001 "i improved during the ofseason and i want to showcase my talent". thats when people started dislikeing kobe when he started trying to be the man on the team rather then playing the role that would benefit the team.

he would of had no better sucess with duncan than he would with shaq, and he would be the star with duncan so of course he would like that he wouldnt have to share anything like he did with shaq.

kevin garnett improves suns, and for years had the wolves on the cusp of winning the first round with nuthing around him please no he played with nobody duncan plays with better player he's the most complete player in history he could guard all 5 positions he could pass well for 6 11 shoot of course drive etc this guy was a freak but he played with nobody his whole career.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 7:32:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

mateo stop makeing excuses for garnett he's never lived up to the hype of the kid status that he got early in his career. he is a guy who puts up numbers but there not impactful numbers scottie pippen said he was one of the most overated players ever and so did skip bayless i agree. all time greats dont miss the playoffs 3 years after an mvp or only get out the first round 1 time in 12 years. what if dirk or kobe or lebron did this what would the scrutiny be then look at how there critcize now even steve nash cant get away with this.

you and all other garnett supporters talk about supporting cast look at iverson supporting cast 01 when got to the finals lebron this year kobe in 06 in the first round vs phoenix. all them took teams somewhere with nuthing around him if he is as complete a player everyone claims he is why doesnt his team have more sucess. maybe it is a question of leadership right he's not a great leader he plays with passion and all but ive never seen with him get on temates in the press or in their face like jordan shaq kobe or larry bird did, he just whines to john thompson or to others about how much he wants to win but has never backed that up by showing it by demanding a trade.

i know that shaq and duncan who is often compared to with that same roster could get to the 2nd third round especially in their primes no way somebody of his supposed stature could miss the playoffs 3 straight years and everybody feel sorry for him and say poor kg. his legacy is not of selflessness like one said it is of stupidness he continued to stayin minnesota when he should of asked out a long time ago.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 8:11:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Mateo:

The bottom three playoff teams in the West this year were Denver, the Lakers and Golden State. The Nuggets dealt with suspensions and a big trade for Iverson; they clearly have more talent than Minn. and probably would have had a better record if they had had their final roster all year long. The Lakers had Kobe Bryant and no other All-Stars--or anyone even close to being an All-Star. The next best players, Odom and Walton, missed substantial playing time and were at way less than 100% when they returned to action. Projected starting center Kwame Brown was hurt most of the year, forcing 19 year old Andrew Bynum into the fray sooner than the Lakers wanted. Point guard Smush Parker, a marginal player at best, inexplicably developed an attitude problem toward Phil Jackson. Despite all of this, the Lakers finished 10 games ahead of Minn. Golden State battled injuries to key players for most of the year and also had to adjust on the fly to a midseason trade--yet they also finished 10 games ahead of Minnesota. What's more, the Clippers, Hornets and Kings also finished ahead of Minn. and the Blazers had the same record. We all know that Minn. does not have a great roster--but if KG is really the franchise player that his advocates insist that he is should that team have finished with the third worst record in the Western Conference? How much worse would they be without KG?

KG is a very good player but he simply does not have the impact that the true upper echelon players have. That is why he is not a staple on the All-NBA First Team and that is why his team has fallen off of the map--and that MAY be the reason that he is not overly anxious to go somewhere else where there will be more talent around him and much higher expectations as well.

You say that the standards are unrealistic for KG and imply that he is better than Duncan in many areas but I disagree with you on both counts. KG won an MVP and is considered by most to be a "superstar." There should be high standards regarding his play. Other than free throw shooting (and steals) I would take Duncan over KG in every meaningful category, even rebounding (Duncan's regular season minutes are kept low but in the playoffs he is a rebounding force year after year).

Parker and Ginobili make a living going to the hoop in driving lanes that are cleared in large part by Duncan's presence, which is part of the reason that I agree with Marc Stein, the lone voter who picked Duncan for Finals MVP instead of Parker. Without Duncan, Parker would not have put up those kinds of numbers.

Bottom line: Would KG's teams be more successful if he had Ginobili and Parker? Of course--but would KG have won four titles in nine years? I really do not think that he would have, nor do I believe that Duncan would have missed the playoffs for three years playing alongside KG's current teammates.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 8:29:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

The Lakers won those rings and made those Finals appearances after Shaq got into the best shape that he had been in to that point in his career, which can be credited to Phil Jackson--not that other coaches did not plead with Shaq to get in shape, but Jackson was the first coach who Shaq respected enough that he actually did it (the only coaches that Shaq has apparently respected at all so far are Jackson and Riley, because those are the only two for whom he has ever gotten into top shape).

We'll never know how Shaq in his prime would have fared with Wade in his prime. By the time that Shaq got to Miami he was smart enough to understand that he must defer to Wade, something that he was never willing to do with Kobe. The younger Shaq would not have done that and it would be interesting to see how smoothly things between Shaq and D Wade would go in that case. Shaq treated D Wade the way that he should have treated Kobe all along. That's the funny part; Shaq talked all along about what Kobe should do but when Shaq went to Miami Shaq did what he should have been doing in L.A. once his skills started to decline--accept a lesser role on offense without complaining.

You really think that a Duncan-Kobe pairing for nine years would not have resulted in more than the four titles that Duncan has now? The only team that consistently dealt with a healthy Duncan in the playoffs had Shaq AND Kobe. Put Kobe with Duncan and I think you're looking at at least six championships, assuming that both guys stayed healthy; I also think that if Shaq had stayed in shape and had his 2003 surgery in the offseason that he and Kobe could have won five or six titles instead of three.

It makes no sense to say that KG is the most complete player in history. That is like saying that Stephon Marbury is as good as Oscar Robertson because they both averaged 20+ ppg and 7+ apg; you have to look beyond the stats and consider a player's overall impact.

 
At Saturday, June 23, 2007 11:42:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

shaq was in shape every year with the lakers other than the 02-03 so youre wrong again mr friedman shaq being in shape or not he made the lakers formidable.

shaq and wade would of won 4 or 5 titles in a row when shaq was in his prime shaq gets along with wade due to humble personality of wade. and wade listens and respect shaq what kobe never did kobe wanted to be the guy too much and everything to be about him. back then he has probably matured now and woulda accepted his role with shaq that he didnt want to then. phil jackson said kobe said he didnt want to be the sidekick anymore and that was the reason he didnt stand up for shaq to buss as i said he wanted to be the guy shaq made the mistake so did kobe though.

duncan and bryant would be like shaq and wade a great tandem duncan stays in shape like kobe and is all about basketball the thing is duncan wouldnt care if he got the credit like wade wouldnt they dont have the ego's of shaq and kobe.

garnett is great player he is complete he can guard everybody and do everything on the floor it's kevin mchale fault they havent won not his kevin mchale signs the free agents not kg.

 
At Sunday, June 24, 2007 2:07:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

To suggest that conditioning was only an issue for Shaq in 2002-03 is absurd, because Shaq's conditioning has been an issue for most of his career. One of the first things that Phil Jackson did when he initially arrived in L.A. was insist that Shaq get into shape. Shaq did at first but year after year the two of them battled about this. Even now in Miami, Pat Riley had to threaten to suspend Shaq in order to get his weight and body fat under control. Riley's suspensions of Antoine Walker and James Posey for slight conditioning violations may have really been a message to Shaq that Riley is quite serious about suspending players for such matters.

It's easy for Wade to be "humble" when Shaq completely defers to him; I'm sure that Kobe could have done the same thing if Shaq had given him the chance. I wonder how "humble" Wade would be if Shaq was still insisting that if the big dog is not fed (the ball) that he won't guard the house (play defense in the paint). Wade is more injury prone than Kobe and not as good defensively. Together, Shaq and Wade have won one title in three years, so I'm not on board with them being able to have won three in a row, let alone four or five, even in Shaq's younger days.

There is a difference between having a healthy ego/self confidence and simply being jealous of another's success. All great players have egos. The problem with the Lakers is that Shaq wanted all of the attention and glory focused on himself but did not want to work as hard to get it as Kobe did. Yes, Kobe forced shots and made mistakes as a young player but his mistakes primarily came from being so competitive and trying so hard to win, even when he did not quite know how to do it yet; Shaq's mistakes came as a result of not working hard enough and trying to protect his "turf," to make sure that everyone believed that it was "his" team. You never hear Duncan say that the Spurs are "his" team. People want to blame Kobe for being selfish but, as Tex Winter pointed out to Lazenby, it was Shaq who always talked about the Lakers being "his" team--Shaq was the one who created the idea that the team had to be "his," as opposed to a collective effort.

KG is a very good player but his game is not as "complete" as the best of the best--Tim Duncan. That is my main point about KG and it has nothing to do with his teammates. My second point about KG is that if he is as good as his proponents believe and as good as a former MVP still in his prime should be then he would not have missed the playoffs for three straight years.

 
At Sunday, June 24, 2007 3:16:00 PM, Blogger jeff smith said...

kobe is not a easy guy to like thats why basically nobody on the team did like kobe where wade is a likeable guy thats why shaq from jump said it's wade team on top of that he was old and couldnt carry a team like he once copuld.

kobe should of deffered to shaq by saying it was shaq team like pippen did with mike mchale bird etc. no kobe big ego wasnt going to allow that to happen he never liked playing second fiddle to shaq or anybody thats why first chance he got to leave or have the leverage to be the guy he did.

if wade and shaq stay healthy 3 straight like kobe and shaq wade won with a 34 year old shaq and almost with a 33 year old shaq getting to game 7 of the conference finals as micheal smith put it's shaq and whoever else it happened to be kobe and penny and now wade but shaq the constant not the rest of them.

duncan and kobe is speculation you dont no how they would fit kobe would like duncan more because he would be the guy and have no competition the ball was in kobe court he did not tell buss to keep it together at that time they would of done anything for kobe they offered duke coach 50 mil cause kobe said too then he wanted everything to be about him and now he got it.

garnett doesnt have help and never has to go far not his fault thats the manegment who never helped him out because he didnt make the playoofs doesnt hurt his resume.

 
At Sunday, June 24, 2007 10:40:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kobe most certainly did defer to Shaq--look at Kobe's field goal attempts then and now. The Lakers' offense ran through Shaq, although Jackson did usually employ Kobe as the fourth quarter closer because Kobe can create his own shot and make free throws better than Shaq.

I don't understand how you "know" that Shaq and Wade could have won three straight but that my idea that Kobe and Duncan would have won five or six is speculation. Be honest--both of our statements are speculation. Mine is based on the fact that Duncan won three with Ginobili/Parker, neither of whom is close to being as good as Kobe is. I'm not sure what your speculation is based on--Wade is not as good as Kobe at both ends of the court and gets hurt more frequently so I don't see him surviving three straight runs to the Finals, assuming that he and young Shaq would have been able to take a team that far that many years in a row in the first place.

The "constant," as you put it, is a healthy, All-NBA level guard playing alongside a healthy and in shape Shaq. Shaq fled Orlando and then Penny broke down physically. Shaq got hurt and out of shape in '03, ending the Lakers' run. Shaq and Wade have both been hurt at various times in the past three years in Miami. Not too many teams win three straight, so whether people like it or not the reality is that the Shaq/Kobe tandem accomplished something that is very rare. A theoretical tandem of Duncan/Kobe is about the only one I can think of from the past 10 years or so that could possibly have matched that. Duncan/Shaq as a twin tower tandem would be interesting but they might get in each other's way on the block and would need a good guard to get them the ball and create shots at the end of the game.

I'd like to hear you explain why not making the playoffs at all for three years--with no end in sight--does not tarnish former MVP Garnett's legacy. If you believe that then shouldn't you be giving Kobe a lot of credit for carrying a bad team to the playoffs two years in a row?

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 1:16:00 AM, Blogger jeff smith said...

kobe was forced to defer to shaq when he played with shaq everybody but kobe lovers like you know this he really didnt like too kobe wanted everything to go through him and he took 28 shots a game last year 05-06 the most ever without shaq and continously over 30 shots a game so many times like he likes it.


how do you know that duncan and kobe could win 5 or 6 come on if shaq was in shape and in his prime wade like he is know they win the 3 straight the lakers did shaq is what it is about if he healthy wade is a good enough sidekick like kobe was to win the 3 straight titles tracy mcgrady lebron and iverson could as well kobe just happen to play with shaq then but shaq could win with other players he already won with wade.

kobe record without shaq win shaq was in la was 500 kobe record without shaq since he been in miami is 500 shaq record without kobe in la win kobe didnt play was 41-12 and his record without wade last year was 17 -6 wade is 500 without shaq either the constant is the diesel penny career fell off and kobe aint won a playoff series without him without penny he got 3 rings without kobe 1 and next year could be two well see.

kevin garnett not makeing the playoffs doesnt diminsh his career kobe barely makeing the playoffs twice isnt great at all it is so overated by you the team was up 3 1 couldnt hold it and started 27-14 and barely got in not impressive kg has never had nuthing still made 7 straight apperences to the playoffs but ran into better teams if his team is up 3to 1 he doesnt lose and if his team starts 27-14 he doesnt win 42 kobe has more around he should make the playoffs he used to play for rings makeing the playoff is great now

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 2:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

kobe good player no doubt i always said he should of told buss and the rest they should keep the team together in 04 he had alot of leverage with the lakers and did not use it wisely but the lakers now suck not because of kobe but because of the manegment desicions.

kobe should of known when they drafted bynum that the team was in a rebuilding mode you could of got other proven players sean may a few others and you get a high school project like bynum also kupchak history was not jerry west history, btw what is going to happen with west is he going to retire or come back to the lakers next year i wonder he been cold of late after being a big topic when kobe first asked for the trade.

ive always asid kobe was a ineffecient shot jacker and his fg% in his high scoring games confirm that to me but kobe a great player probably the best in basketball today. you should get some value back but not the full thing like a kobe bryant best guard since jordan retired i believe so well see what happens when does ric bucher become kobe agent how does he know all this stuff about kobe.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 5:24:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

So, according to you KG is blameless for Minn. not making the playoffs three years in a row but it's Kobe's fault that several key Lakers got hurt after the team started 27-14 (thanks for pointing out that record again for the 8000th time...might have missed it otherwise). When the Lakers were up 3-2, Kobe scored 50 points, including most of the points in overtime, but the Lakers lost because Odom couldn't grab one defensive rebound at the end of regulation. Yeah, that was all Kobe's fault...

I don't know that Kobe and Duncan could have won five or six titles, any more than you know any of the stuff that you are theorizing. I am just expressing my educated opinion that this is possible. I also think that if Shaq would have stayed in shape that he and Kobe could have won four, five or maybe even six titles.

Apparently, injuries don't factor in to all of the win/loss statistics you like to cite over and over (and over and over). Did you happen to notice that Penny Hardaway had microfracture surgery and was never the same again? That might have had something to do with his career falling off. I recall him averaging over 30 ppg in a playoff series--including back to back 40 point games--without Shaq and before he got hurt.

According to you, missing the playoffs for three straight years is not a blemish against KG and is equivalent to Kobe carrying a seventh seeded team to seven games against a second seeded team. If you really believe that nonsense I am not even going to try to straighten you out.

By the way, how did Shaq do in this year's playoffs without the benefit of having a healthy All-NBA guard by his side? Seems to me that he won one less playoff game than Kobe did against a team that is not as good as the one that Kobe faced.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 5:27:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeff:

32 shots in four seasons is too small of a sample size to be meaningful. I don't know how "clutch" was defined in this survey but Kobe took and made more than 32 "clutch" shots in four seasons.

Kobe, like MJ during his career, is the player who most coaches would want to have taking the last shot and the player that they would want to have guarding a player taking the last shot.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 5:33:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

I don't know how you can say that Kobe had leverage when Buss flat out told Kobe that he was not re-signing Shaq no matter what. Apparently you and Jeff can read Buss' mind and Kobe's mind and know better than they do not only what actually happened but what both of them were thinking. Truly, I am in awe of such power...

Kobe's field goal percentage in certain games may "confirm" something in your mind but I have already demonstrated (1) that it does not mean what you say it does (because you failed to account for the effect of the three point shot and the free throws that Bryant attempts) and (2) that field goal percentage in a small sample of games is not how one determines a player's greatness. It is a good sign, though, that you realize that Kobe is the best player in basketball today.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 9:31:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2 he's not effiecent in high scoring games my bigger issue was that buss was doing whatever kobe wanted in 04 theres no way if kobe said i want to keep it together he wouldnt of done that he wasnt loseing both guys. at that time kobe was not playing with shaq anymore kobe probably grew up more now and see shaq win the championship without him made him look bad.

it's a good sign kobe is barely if he is lebron and wade are right there kobe has had a better career but those 2 are coming and if kobe the best his time is running out fast anyway and the best player supposed to be on a good team.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 10:01:00 AM, Blogger jeff smith said...

hahaha kg team was not as good as kobe so they werent supposed to do as well. doesnt blemish his great career he has no good players kobe got two and team backed into the playoffs this year had 3 less losses and only one playoff win and walton and odom was playing the last 30 games or so and they still lost to portland and sacremento and charlotte memphis at home.

i remember lakers getting to finals in 04 when shaq was still there then kobe broke that up they could of won 5 or six titles still if kobe stood up for shaq till buss thatys why kobe took so much flak even after shaq was out of shape in 03 they got to the finals in 04 KOBE you had help you destroyed it stop whineing please.

i continue to go over them because im an educated basketball guy you are nuthing but a kobe lover and uneducated basketball guy penny never won a playoff series without shaq even after shaq left he got hurt but he was never the same player without shag there like kobe isnt as far as team accomplishing anything they put up numbers but cant get out the first round. they were favored in 99 against sixers and loss in 4.

kobe was up 3 to 1 to phoenix and cant get a win there not leaders and that has been proven. 32 shots is enough to say kobe being clutch is overated he was years ago but of late he has missed alot more than he made this is with the ball under 10 seconds.

shaq didnt do well they ran into a hot team the bulls probably sweep the lakers too the supplementary parts just ran out but shaq going 17-6 got them in the playoffs when alot didnt think they would because wade got hurt shaq was never able to show what he could do in his prime in the playoffs his star was always healthy but a prime shaq could get you to the conference finals great player and leader kobe should take more notice of shaq with his terrible leadership.

 
At Monday, June 25, 2007 3:33:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Odom and Walton were hurt and not at 100% even after they came back--or did you not notice Walton limping up and down the court and Odom on the sidelines icing his shoulder, knee, etc?

You can repeat the same nonsense as much as you want (at least until I get tired of hearing it and delete it...) but that does not make it true. Kobe did not break up the Lakers. Buss admitted as much at that time.

I love how you say that even though Shaq was out of shape in '03 the Lakers got to the Finals in '04. What about '03? That's the point--the team could have gotten to more Finals and won more titles if Shaq had stayed in shape--and that set the stage for Buss to not re-sign Shaq, not anything that Kobe said or did.

I'd love to know where you got your basketball "education."

Your "logic" is mind boggling. Let's try to untangle it:

1) KG's legacy is not hurt by not making the playoffs because he has no help.

BUT

2) Kobe's legacy is hurt because his '06 Lakers--the seventh seed--"only" pushed the heavily favored second seed Suns to seven games and did not win a series that most people thought that they would lose.

Like many fans who have their favorites, you simply twist and turn things to suit what you believe as opposed to trying to look at things objectively. This site is about basketball analysis, not about who your favorite player is.

 

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