The saddest thing on the Internet right now, other than rhinos who have lost their horns to poachers, is probably the blog coverage of KG’s first season with the Nets. Such luminaries as Zach Lowe and Kevin Pelton have already made the difficult decision to look at KG’s numbers this season, and they’ve found that that KG is playing at worse than replacement level.
KG’s true shooting percentage is .331, about 200 points lower than his previous season-long worst. Much more shocking, though, is his slippage on D: the Nets are allowing 11 more points per 100 possessions with KG on the floor.
Has KG been matched up with tough defenses? He has not. Other than Indiana, Brooklyn has faced Washington, Miami, Utah, and Orlando. Is he getting double-teamed? He may not even be getting single-teamed. Brook Lopez is by far the best NBA center KG has ever played with, to the extent that Loren Woods and Ervin Johnson were even NBA players. With Williams, Johnson, and Pierce also on the floor, KG is probably the rightful fifth option in the Nets attack. He’s getting looks.
So what is happening?
The obvious response is that he’s only played six games, and no judgment should ever be passed on any player until after at least 400 games. But KG was never the kind to play his way into game shape. He led those insane early season runs Boston went on over the last five years, when they would be on pace to win like 78 games every Christmas. And now KG is six games and 139 minutes OLDER than he was at the beginning of the season. He’s 37. He may not be playing himself into game shape, but out of it. It’s obvious, right? At some point KG was just going to get progressively worse.
Like you, my emotions are divided on this. Garnett is my favorite player ever. His Fathead is on my bathroom ceiling. I want to see him succeed, if only for the resale value of the Fathead. But my hometown franchise, the Boston Celtics, benefits doubly from Garnett’s decline: A) they’re not paying him anymore and B) they’re picking for the Nets three times in the next five drafts.
Honestly? I’m glad he was traded. IT’S TRUE. I’m glad as a Celtics fan that I can already think of my favorite player as some version of “gone.” Just like Boston KG was never the slashing-24-PPG-maniac-threatening-to-kill-Chris-Webber-with-a-missile-launcher he was in Minnesota, Brooklyn KG can also be something different from the KG we knew. And the fact that Brooklyn KG is much, much worse just doesn’t hurt as bad.