By Myles Brown
1. having considerable monetary worth; costing
or bringing a high price: a valuable painting; a valuable crop.
2. having qualities worthy of respect, admiration,
or esteem: a valuable friend.
3. of considerable use, service, or importance:
a valuable player.
4. apparently not Jerry West. (But he got the logo, so it’s all good.)
*And if you don’t know, now you know.
I don’t like much of the case against Kevin Garnett. Everyone knew what conference he played in and who his teammates were before the season started, but he was still a preseason MVP candidate. Six months later he’s not only delivered, the Celtics have exceeded expectations and now what was always known is being held against him? I dont get it.
I don’t like discounting Garnett because he’s in the Eastern Conference. Yes, they did get to pick on weaker opponents, but what happened when they went out West? The Celtics won 25 of 30 games against their left coast foes and three of those losses came in succession (Feb. 19, 20 & 22 v. Denver, Phoenix & Golden State. Garnett’s first three games returning from an abdominal strain.) in what could be considered a bad week. About a month later, they had a great week, becoming the first team in seven seasons to sweep the Texas Triangle and ending the Rockets epic 22 game win streak in the process. And just three weeks ago, the Celtics demolished the Suns and the Hornets in back to back games by 20 points each, the latter victory giving them a W against every team in the league. So East, schmeast. Thorough is thorough on either side of the map.
I don’t like diminishing Garnett’s impact on his team by pointing to his teammates. Even with the Big 3, this team was supposed to be too thin. But it’s been Garnett’s rabid passion that has infected his cohorts and driven them to overachieve. Plain as this is to see, some still question whether Paul Pierce (19.1, 4.6 & 5.5) is more valuable than da kid. Why, because a selfless K.G. said so? Because Pierce scores one more point a game? In three more minutes? Really? His field goal (43.9% to 46.4%) and three point percentage (38.9% to 39.2%) have gone up along with his assists (4.1 to 4.5), because of Garnett spreading the floor and the defense. More importantly, K.G. has inspired Pierce-who has been considered strictly an offensive threat-to match his efforts on the other end of the court. As much as Pierce may help Kev on offense-something he never struggled with-it would never be said that Paul has made Garnett the defender he is. The same can be said about Ray Allen. So teammates, schmeammates. Just like their conference, having good teammates has never been held against a candidate and I’m not going to start now.
I don’t like holding Garnett’s numbers ( 18.8, 9.2 & 3.4) against him either. The scoring is surprisingly low for an MVP, but so are the Celtics opponents and that’s where his impact has been felt this year. The team is allowing nine less points per game this year (99.2 to 90.3) due to drastic decreases in opponent field goal (46.8% to 41.9%) and three point (35.4% to 31.6%) percentages and about 300 less assists (1811 to 1539). I feel safe in saying that practically all of that can be attributed to one guy and his name isn’t Brian Scalabrine. No, not Gabe Pruitt either. And if Doc Rivers didn’t have to almost literally tie Garnett to the bench in limiting him to 32.8 minutes a game, then he would almost certainly sink that extra bucket, grab that fraction of a rebound and dole out that extra assist. He’d still be Kevin “20, 10 & 5” Garnett and his resume would be a lot sexier. So numbers, schmumbers. Unless you’re going to look at ’em all. There’s two sides to a court you know.
The Celtics went from being a laughingstock, to a contender, to a disappointment if they come home with anything other than an O’Brien. I’m certainly not gonna bet against them, but for now the one guy responsible for their success is gonna have to settle for another Podoloff. Kevin Garnett is my 2007-08 NBA MVP.
And that’s a wrap.
* I still hope Kobe wins though.