Archives For Kevin Garnett

Welcome back, KG

Zach Harper —  February 24, 2015 — 11 Comments

While there are differing opinions on the merits and the impacts of this move, I’d like to think Wolves fans can put all that aside for one night and just enjoy Kevin Garnett’s return to the Target Center as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He last played for the Wolves on April 9, 2007.

He’s the franchise leader in games, minutes played, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and points. The Wolves have never had a winning season without him. The Wolves have never made the playoffs without him. It will be a surreal sight to see him back in a Wolves’ uniform, and just for a night we should soak it in and enjoy the moment.

Welcome back, KG.

Limbo, thy name is the first game after the All-Star break with one more to go before the greatest player in franchise history returns as a kind of éminence grise for a rawly talented but still rebuilding team. It wouldn’t have been surprising if the team had mailed it in, but pleasingly they didn’t and ended up holding on for a squeaker over the Suns. We’ll get to the Wolves in a moment, but let’s start with the Suns. Continue Reading…

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I’ve been a Timberwolves fan since my early elementary years in the mid-90s. I can remember sitting in the upper deck with my dad, watching a Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury, and Tom Gugliotta big 3 lead the Timberwolves to their first playoff berth.

My friend and AWAW amigo William Bohl was not (obsessively) watching basketball at this point. In fact, he didn’t start (obsessively) watching the Timberwolves until after he was already gone.

This made for some interesting conversation when Kevin Garnett was traded to the Timberwolves yesterday. While I got to see the Timberwolves’ “glory years” as a fan, Bill’s lack of exposure to that era helped keep him more even keeled throughout yesterday’s happenings. We decided to exchange some emails on the matter. This is what we came away with.

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KG and Thad

It’s a done deal – the Minnesota Timberwolves have acquired Kevin Garnett from the Brooklyn Nets for Thaddeus Young.

Garnett, who turns 39 in May, is in the final season of a 3 year, $36 million deal and opted to waive his no-trade clause in order to facilitate the move. In 42 games with Brooklyn this season, he averaged 20.3 minutes, 6.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists on 45% shooting.

Of course, Garnett was drafted by the Timberwolves with the 5th overall pick of the 1995 NBA Draft and is universally considered the best player in the franchise’s history. In 12 seasons with Minnesota, KG averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds and 4.5 assists, winning league MVP honors in 2004. Garnett led the Wolves to the Western Conference Finals that same year, the only time in the team’s history they’ve made it past the first round of the playoffs.

Thad Young was acquired from the Sixers as part of the Love-for-Wiggins megadeal, as the Wolves sent a lottery-protected first round pick (via Miami), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved to Philadelphia in exchange for his services. Young, who averaged 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game as a member of the Timberwolves, has an early termination option in his contract which could make him a free agent this summer, which likely factored into the decision to deal him away.

Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press is reporting that the Wolves would like to give Kevin Garnett a two year extension, meaning this wouldn’t just be a 29-game farewell tour for The Big Ticket.

Steve McPherson wrote about the potential deal earlier today, and now that it’s a reality, his analysis is still worth a look. Obviously, the Wolves are hoping Garnett can help change the culture and lead the talented group of young players, including Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Zach LaVine, Anthony Bennett and Gorgui Dieng. While the idea is nice, it’s fair to wonder if they paid too big a price, or if they really gave Thad Young a long enough look in Minnesota.

Either way, Kevin Garnett is coming home. Tickets are on sale now. See you at Target Center.

kevin-garnett

As soon as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves were involved in a late push to bring back Kevin Garnett from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Thad Young, a particular drumbeat began that went: “Wolves traded a first round pick for a 38-year-old KG.”

I’m here to tell you why this is a stupid way to think about this, whether or not it happens. And it’s not because trading for Young in the first was not a mistake — because it might well have been — and it’s not because trading for Garnett is not a mistake — because it might well be.  It’s mostly because of a little thing called the fourth dimension, so let’s travel back through it to when Minnesota traded for Thad Young for a first round pick this past summer.

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Throughout the season, Flip Saunders has told stories to players and media about his early years with the Timberwolves, specifically his memories developing a young, untapped 19-year-old named Kevin Garnett.

In some cases, telling such stories could be seen as pointless. There’s no way he told these stories to his title-contending Detroit Pistons squads, filled with veterans and guys who grew up playing against KG, and had already gone through the growing pains. One can only imagine what Rasheed Wallace would have thought if Saunders was reminiscing about a guy he was picked ahead of in 1995.

But this year’s Timberwolves team needs to hear these tales. Currently, the Wolves start one teenager, and have had another in and out of the starting lineup.The average age of their two leading scorers is 20 years old. They have 3 rookies on the active roster, and are at a point where guys in the range of 24-27 years old classifies you as a “seasoned veteran”.

Yes, Saunders needs to tell stories to Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and Anthony Bennett, not just because they’re young, and not just because they’re developing. It’s also because of the way Kevin Garnett played, even when he was 19.

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Nikola Pekovic

Yes, Deron Williams isn’t the player he was in Utah, but he still gets you 18 and 8 on most nights. No point guard sees a matchup against Brooklyn as a night off. He’s still a beast.

Yes, Brook Lopez has a lengthy injury history to his record, but a healthy Brook is still a dangerous Brook.

Yes, Joe Johnson doesn’t deserve to have the third biggest paycheck in the NBA, but he’s still giving the Nets very good (All-Star caliber?) production in the latter stages of his career.

Speaking of latter stages, yes, Kevin Garnett is nowhere near the dominant two-way player the he once was, but he’s still a useful starter in spot minutes. Plus, this just happened a couple days ago.

Lastly, it’s true the Nets aren’t the title contenders some hoped they’d be when they acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce a year ago. Still, you’ll see them competing in the playoffs this spring.

The Nets are the ultimate “yeah, but still” team in the NBA, and they’re who the Timberwolves face off against tonight to start their November road trip.

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Kevin Love

Being a fan of the Minnesota Twins in the 2000s was a mostly pleasurable experience – they won five division titles, averaged 89 victories per season, appeared in two do-or-die Game 163s, and carved a unique, endearing identity (the piranhas) that made them easy to love. The problem, of course, was their lack of postseason success – a combined 6-21 record in the playoffs, capped off by two consecutive three game sweeps at the hands of the New York Yankees. They never seemed hellbent on going for it, trading prospects or young talent for that veteran pitcher or power bat that may have pushed them over the edge in October. It was their organizational philosophy to build for the future, even when they were on the cusp of winning in the present.

Why open a recap of a 2013 Timberwolves-Nets game with anecdotes about the mid-2000s Twins? Because last offseason, the Wolves and Nets resolved to do the opposite of what the Twins did for all those years. They looked themselves in the mirror, weighed the options, and decided, “You know what? F*** it. Let’s go for it.” Jaded by my disappointment in the Twins, I have a soft spot for franchises that decide to push their chips to the center of the table, because the goal is to win a title, not merely subsist year-to-year on future assets that may not pan out. Continue Reading…

The NBA’s YouTube page is releasing the top 10 plays of a bunch of All-Stars’ careers and Kevin Garnett was one of the first guys they did. I know it’s not totally cool to still love KG because he barks at people and he was mad at Glen Taylor and stuff, but he’s still probably my favorite NBA player of all time. I love watching him even to this day and have a great time seeing the highlights from his career with the Wolves.

Nine of these plays by KG involve the Wolves, one of the plays was in the title clinching game in 2008, and eight of them are in a Wolves uniform. Here are my quick thoughts of remembrance for each play:  Continue Reading…

Second night of a back-to-back is hard to win, especially when you’re facing a veteran team like the Boston Celtics on the road. The tricky part is this isn’t the normal Boston Celtics team we’re used to seeing. This is an offensive-oriented team that is harder to keep up with than they are to score against. When you’re a team that misses out on as many easy points as the Wolves did Wednesday night, it’s hard to keep up.

After the deluge of 3-pointers that rained down on the 76ers Tuesday night, the Wolves went much colder from 3-point range. 31.6% is a bad shooting night, but it’s above what the Wolves have done so far this year. However, losing because you made only 14-of-30 free throw attempts in a road game is just frustrating.

This isn’t a good free throw shooting team either. Heading into tonight’s game, the Wolves were 24th in the NBA in free throw percentage. The volume of free throw attempts the Wolves usually get can help them make up for it typically (Wolves have the third best FT/FGA rate in the league). But when you dip below 50% on 30 attempts in a game, there really aren’t a lot of questions as to why you lost the game. Maybe I should write 2,400 words on why the Wolves are a terrible free throw shooting team and see if they can make my effort look completely futile once again?

The funny thing about free throw shooting is the only way to improve on it is to simply hone your mechanics and make them. It’s not like other shots in the NBA where you can devise a plan to get better looks at the rim. You’re getting the same looks at the rim every time. Either they’re concentrating too much or not enough or this porridge is too cold. Whatever the reason is they’re not making them, at a certain point excuses of tired legs and poor conditioning due to injuries have to end and the Wolves just have to make them.

The one thing I noticed about this game is the Wolves never seemed to have much flow on offense while having a defensive presence. What I mean by that is the Wolves were never really clicking well enough on both ends at the same time to go on extended runs in this game. Even in frustrating losses or hard-fought victories this season, the Wolves were able to go on runs throughout different points of the ball game to establish some kind of cushion or some kind of momentum. Whether it was the poor 3-point shooting or the poor free throw shooting, the Wolves were never in a groove on both ends.

The Celtics went on four different big runs throughout the game. They had an 11-1 run in the first quarter, a 10-0 run in the second quarter, a 9-0 run in the third quarter and another 11-1 run in the fourth quarter. The Wolves had a 10-0 run in the first quarter and that was about it. Poor free throw shooting, bad 3-point shooting, and no extended runs after the first quarter. This is how teams lose the second night of a road back-to-back.

I’m not quite sure what else could have been done, either. This was just one of those games.

One thing I would have liked to see more of is the Wolves pounding the ball inside. More than half of their points came in the paint, and they had a real size advantage with Pek and Love on the floor. While Love struggled against KG at times, there was a lot of cross-screening, pick-and-roll switches, and quick hitter stuff the Wolves could have done to get Love a mismatch inside. And once that happens, he can either score quickly or find a cutter coming through the lane. There could have been much more movement.

The Wolves played a game with 98 possessions and typically they like to play around 94 possessions. The tempo of the game was never theirs, and that’s where you want to see them pound the ball inside more. Find Pek when he has position. Trust him to make smart passes out of double teams. Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger can’t handle Pek inside. Neither can Chris Wilcox. When JJ Barea and Alexey Shved are in the game, I’m all for pushing the tempo. But when you don’t have the personnel to push (and without Ricky on the floor yet, the Wolves really don’t), then you have to grind out possessions and punish teams with your size.

Sure, you’re going to get some shots blocked. We saw that against the Milwaukee Bucks. However, eventually you’ll get the other team’s interior to break down. Granted, you might end up going to the free throw line more and that wasn’t a good thing in this game. I’d just like to see the Wolves take advantage of their advantages more often.

Minnesota now has tomorrow off before the battered Cavaliers come to town. Hopefully they can take advantage of the matchup and get back to .500.