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Are Kevin Garnett’s Best Days Behind Him?
As the postseason got underway this year for the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett(notes) blogged that he had to bring his "hard hat" and "just keep grinding" after winning game in the first round. It was the first of what would be four straight wins as the Cs swept the Knicks, but Garnett's work ethic and indisputable talent weren't enough to pull through against the Heat. Having suffered through the losing 2006-07 season as a fan, I appreciate just how big of an impact KG Had. Garnett came to Boston, and we won the Championship, it's as simple as that.
I know plenty of fellow Cs fans are still bitter over the loss to Miami, but let's face the facts. The Heat's big three clearly have more of their careers ahead of them than the Celtics' big three. They're younger, and at least during the frustrating semi-finals, they looked stronger and simply played better. For the first time since Kevin Garnett joined the Celtics in 2007, I actually thought of him as an aging player.
Let's get one thing straight, I don't think KG is "old," but retirement is looming for the big man. Back in December, KG mentioned the possibility of retirement with a lockout looming this summer. KG said "At some point, especially with the lockout coming up…Who knows if this is my last year, or we don't play next year, what it's going to be."
It's not speculation, KG could announce his retirement any day now, which begs the question; should he retire in the first place? The narrative is that Garnett did what Danny Ainge and company brought him to Boston to do, namely win a Championship with Paul Pierce(notes) and Ray Allen(notes). Now that he's done that, and facing the prospect of going up against a younger generation of stars in 2011-12, KG should step away while he still looks good.
Nevertheless, that storyline might be a little too simple. Just as Paul Pierce's 2010-11 season stats defy the notion that he's old (they're some of the best numbers of his career), KG's numbers also tell a different story.
During the first six seasons of his NBA career, KG never went above .500 from the field. He was .528 last season, and his free throw percentage was .862, a career best. He may have averaged more rebounds and points per game during his last few years with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but last season's numbers aren't exactly shabby. He averaged 8.9 rebounds and 14.9 points per game. Keep in mind that he was averaging almost 10 more minutes per game when he was peaking with the Timberwolves.
The bottom line is that there's very much still a role for KG on the 2011-12 Celtics. With recent talk of having Pierce play off the bench, as well as an uncertain roster ahead, KG could shore things up for another season. With the post-big three era looming, KG could help buy the Cs time to plan and rebuild. And who knows, he might just help the team win another championship.
Stats from Basketball Reference
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