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Garnett Above the Net?

 

Perhaps the biggest news of training camp (aside from the hijinks involving Nate Robinson) is the resurgence of Kevin Garnett.  Everyone has been absolutely gushing about how fast, how quick, and how explosive he looks.

I choose to remain skeptical.

No two injuries are alike and recovery time varies across a wide spectrum.  However, most people generally agree that it takes a year removed from going under the knife before one fully regains mobility, confidence, and explosiveness.  Most people, however, are not relied on for these attributes as much as Kevin Garnett.

When it became clear last year that Garnett had lost a step many people were concerned with the hit the Celtics’ defense would take.   This reaction was expected- after all he is the defensive cornerstone of this team.  As the season progressed and the team’s defensive ratings continued to remain among the league’s elite, a more pressing issue relating to Garnett’s loss of mobility emerged; the Celtics’ offensive versatility.

The Celtics offensive sets took a huge hit with KG’s newfound athletic limitations.  Gone were the alley-oops, the easy elevation over defenders on the block, and put-backs in the lane.  In came the prevalence of elbow-extended long-twos.

When Doc says this about KG:

“It’s night and day [from last season]. I still wish he would take a break in practice more, but that’s a whole other issue that we’ll have to solve. He’s explosive again, especially defensively, and that’s great. He outran guys in our scrimmage earlier, at least three times. Once, he got the rebound, threw it out, and still out ran all the bigs down the floor. He couldn’t do that last year, and even if he could, he didn’t think he could. To me, that’s the biggest change.” (Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston)

Does it really convince you that the Celtics will have changed that much this year?

To me, this is akin to the Rasheed Wallace training camp talk of yester-year.  You know, the “we could win 72 games” talk?  We all saw how that panned out.  But hell,  KG might end up being more athletic, explosive, and mobile this season.  I sincerely hope so.  The rhetorical question Jeff Van Gundy posed (“[why is Kevin Garnett going up for a rebound with one hand?]”) while commentating on the Finals last year is still haunting.

In order for the Celtics to see any note-worthy improvement, Garnett is going to have to find a happy medium between his numbers last year and the numbers he put up in 2008.    Specifically, Garnett is going to have to finish at the rim at a much higher rate.  In 2008, Garnett finished shots “at the rim” at a clip of 73% compared to 65% in 2010 (HoopData.com).  If that number escalates to around 69% this season, it will probably mean that two tangible aspects of Garnett’s game have returned.  1) He is taking advantage of his opponent one-on-one more; and 2) he’s doing this again:

That may be asking a little much.  This, on the other hand, should be expected:


Kevin Garnett Alley-oop Slam – Game 6 (6.17.08)
Uploaded by 23city. – Discover the latest sports and extreme videos.

This is a play that spoiled Celtics fans in 2008 and was near non-existent since Garnett’s injury.   The Celtics are already respected but if KG can return to this form, the Celtics become feared again.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    i broke my leg once and it took over a year before it felt 99% again, so i totally buy that angle. but i wasn’t in my thirties and hadn’t grinded out NBA seasons since i was a teenager.

    would love to see kg’s spring back. last year it was heartbreaking to see those aborted alley-oops, and young punks stealing rebounds over the back. very humbling for the big dog.

    can’t wait for this season to start!

  • CsFanInArkansas

    I think KG takes too much pride in his game to go out on a weak note.
    He knows the end of his career is approaching and he wants to go out like a lion – just like he came into the league. That certainly bodes well for all of us in Celticland.

    The man is “a psychopath” according to Kendrik Perkins…I see him bouncing back from an uncharacteristically weak year.

  • http://www.basketballcheap.com complexity

    He played much better in the Finals and in the playoffs as well.

    I really do think that he’s got a great season or two left in him.

  • NHBluesMan

    If Garnett gets his explosiveness back, there isn’t a single power forward in the league who can touch him.

    I love the highlight of him from the ’08 finals when he goes up against Odom, gets fouled, and almost throws the ball through the hoop

  • Kb

    agree with CsFanInArkansas. When he’s done, he’s gonna leave with his held high!

    I def missed those Rondo to KG alley oops last year. I saw one here and there and was hoping that KG was back but that didn’t really happen.
    I do still wonder WHY he went up for all those rebounds with one hand. It didn’t make any sense although there might be a valid reason.

  • CsFanInArkansas

    I think the one handed rebound is more of a style/intimidation rebound = you grab the ball with one hand and then slam your other hand on it and make a loud noise (it’s supposed to communicate to your opponents something along the lines of “THAT’S RIGHT B!+@# !!! I GOT THAT BOARD!”

    Fundamentally, it leaves you open to getting the ball snagged by the guy going up with two hands…which we all got to so painfully witness…

  • I love Green

    KG for DPOTY!!!

  • Zain

    @Green: YES. Time to dethrone Howard.

  • Rav

    Kb,

    I’m a short guy with little athleticism or timing so I go for boards with one hand so I can tip it to myself or to somebody else. It’s brought on by less athleticism and confidence, which is what Doc seems to be saying KG was suffering from.

  • DeVelaine

    @Zain & Green: Only thing I can say in defense of Dwight is that he has a nose for putting the ball in the stands. That’s the sort of thing that people take notice of. On the other hand… The rest of Orlando (now minus Matt Barnes) can’t defend to save their lives. A one-man show ain’t going to get it done when it counts, and certainly not against the better teams.

  • Rangatiratanga

    Now this is “news”.

  • Perry

    Howard will eventually learn the art of block is not about it’s fury …. it’s about creating a turnover and the extra possession for your team the way Russell did. Still, with all his flaws, he’s the most intimidating big man in the game.

    Garnett has an interesting dichotomy to master since his minutes won’t increase and he’ll be counted on as the last line of defense … where he spends most of his energy. We know he’ll never approach his floor time with anything less than a 100% effort, but on the other hand he understands he’s not 24 years old either. So its more about his gate, and not getting winded when he’s really needed on the floor.

    The beauty of his game is how unselfish he is with the ball, and he understands how to stay in the flow of the offense and knows the right time to assert himself. Russell never had off the charts offensive numbers, but he had Couz, as KG has Rondo now. Even in his advanced years — if he can run the floor with abandon his offensive numbers will be that much more efficient when he’s on the floor. Let’s face it; if this dude is spent in crunch time then we have problems.

  • I love Green

    Howard should learn the key is not to block the shot everytime, but to make them think you’re going to block it everytime.

  • http://yahoo shut_it_up.

    you’re quoting jeff van gundy?
    what is your point?
    that you are a sceptic? yeah, i think we got that.

  • I love Green

    Poor Shaq…they won’t leave him alone.

    http://www.twitvid.com/29TWZ

  • matt

    i’m worried about his legs while he’s wearing anta shoes. anyone else worried about this?

  • http://celticshub.com James

    The reason I at least go up with one hand for rebounds is just that physically one can reach higher just extending one arm, then by extending both. I think this is because it allows one’s shoulders to go uneven. Just my two cents

  • Jeff

    Safe to say with the offseason additions, and rookies and all the moves Danny made, that if KG is anywhere even CLOSE to 2008…the C’s will hang #18 AND #19 before the big three ride into the sunset along with the Shaqtus, JO and Doc.

  • bobo

    Im probably one of KG’s biggest fans but i still worry about him when its time to close out in big games.My worry with him is more mental than what he hasn’t regained physically.The knock on KG if there was ever any,was him disappearing in big games.He tends to shrink when the game is on the line in playoff situations.He has got to show up in the big games from start to finish.You can’t expect Pierce to be the closer all the time.I expect KG to put the lid on some big games this season especially in the playoffs.

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