Wednesday, September 28th, 2011 at 12:11 pm  |  54 responses

Top 50: Kevin Garnett, no. 37

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Shannon Booher / @Shannon_Booher

Kevin Garnett, please, do not read this. The summer lockout circuit is no place for aging vets, but I’m hoping a bored KG is not perusing internet basketball sites and does not catch even a whisper of this ranking. The last thing he needs is any more fuel for his basketball fire. He already runs too hot. The 16-year vet’s intensity is legendary—an intensity that was always admired and praised while melting ‘Sota winters, but that has drawn some scrutiny in recent years under the spotlight of the Celtics‘ contending status.

Just last year Spike Lee told him to “calm the f*ck down” and multiple players/coaches/execs called him “dirty” and a “bully,” insinuating that with diminishing skills, he has resorted to a new style of play in order to compete. Numbers don’t back up that theory, however, as his stats have been virtually the same for the past three seasons. That flare up was probably worth an extra yoga lesson or two.

Then Game 4 against the Heat in the Playoffs happened. Then the Heat took the series in five.

Fab said breathe, son, breathe. KG is a guy steadily trying to calm himself down, not pump himself up. He is the guy trying to slap, pound, bang and mumble himself into submission, and you present him with this? After channeling his ‘Sota-self and carrying the team on his back in the Elbow Game, he regresses to the mean in Game 4 and the blame is thrown at him? A team with many skeptics, based on its age and propensity to injury, and it’s the youngest and heartiest of their foundation players who gets hurt, killing its chance at taking out the Heat? Breathe, KG, breathe.

Now there’s a lockout. The Big 3 aren’t getting any younger. Garnett and Ray Allen won’t even be under contract if the ‘11-12 season is canceled. Can the Cs fade a missed season? What does the future hold? What does a bank account missing $21 million+ hold? Whoa. Now might be a good time for one of those Malibu Beach runs, Kevin.

Turn off the Drake and stay away from the headlines. You don’t need to hear all this. Kevin Garnett done seen it all and been through it all. The criticism, in some form or fashion, has been there for years, save for the brief respite during and following the Celtics title season. This offseason, despite an All-Defensive campaign, the same consistent on-court production, a season mostly devoid of injury, and the usual leadership role, the doubters are back. As evidenced by his drop (2010 — No. 29, 2009 — No. 12) in these rankings, people just aren’t sure he can can do it anymore. Uh oh.

So please, Kevin. Don’t read this. Turn off the TV and disconnect the internet. Don’t mumble SLAM’s name under your breath as you bang your head against the stanchion in your next pregame. Take Spike’s advice and calm down. We don’t need you to implode before the next season starts. We need you around for another doggedly consistent season, leading your team to contending status.

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Luol Deng Bulls SF 8
49 Andrew Bogut Bucks C 7
48 Ray Allen Celtics SG 9
47 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
46 David West Hornets PF 15
45 Kevin Martin Rockets SG 8
44 Andrew Bynum Lakers C 5
43 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 11
42 Lamar Odom Lakers PF 14
41 Gerald Wallace Blazers SF 7
40 Brook Lopez Nets C 4
39 Joakim Noah Bulls C 3
38 Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 13
37 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 12

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Hmm…this could mean that David Lee, Luis Scola, or Josh Smith are ahead of KG…I’m not the biggest Rage Kage fan but I think he could have been a few spots higher than this, even if he is fading. Not loving the write-up either.

  • Hum


  • http://bleacherreport.com/articles/670447-dwight-howard-and-andrew-bogut-a-tale-of-two-2011-all-nba-defensive-centers nbk

    I know this doesn’t mention it, but he is still a top 3 defensive PF in the league. If not the best. He may end up a little underrated

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I find it disturbing that one of the best defenders in the L is next to one of the worst defenders.
    Also, even though the numbers don’t back it up, KG is still a better player than KLove, who will appear ahead of him. I guess Slam only cares about offense.

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    It’s not that I disagree with the placement by itself. It’s that I disagree with rating him one spot higher than Boozer.
    Even in his dotage, Garnett murders Boozer. Bulls fans know this. They saw that Boozer wanted no parts whatsoever with KG.
    Anyway, I can see him as the 37th best player in the League, even with his stellar defense because he is aging, but I can’t see him as only one spot better than Boozer. It just doesn’t compute.

  • http://celtics.com lights out

    too low. still a great leader, still very skilled offensively, still the highest defensive win share percentage in the league. not a big stat head, but you can’t ignore that.

  • http://bleacherreport.com/articles/670447-dwight-howard-and-andrew-bogut-a-tale-of-two-2011-all-nba-defensive-centers nbk

    I’m just happy he didn’t end up above Lamarcus Aldridge. That’s what I was worried about. But this officially means no Tim Duncan this year huh?

  • Ben

    So ginobili is better than kg? Because he better be on this list….I’m expecting to see him soon

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    I miss the graphs/lists that showed where they were previously ranked =P

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I don’t know why but something tells me that TD makes it. There are 11 PF spots left on the list, so there’s room (even though undeserved) for TD.
    Dirk, Bosh, LA, Amare, BGriff, Gasol, ZBo, KLove, JSmith, and DC. That leaves one more spot for a PF (unless Slam considers TD a C).

  • http://bleacherreport.com/articles/670447-dwight-howard-and-andrew-bogut-a-tale-of-two-2011-all-nba-defensive-centers nbk

    Well TD was no.50 last season – and I’m pretty sure David Lee makes a return to this list. He was no. 34 last season, and just put up 16ppg and 9.8rpg w/ 3.2 assists on 50% shooting.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    There’s always room for TD…even though he averaged career lows in points and rebounds, his blocks per game still remains intact. If anything, I’m guessing he’ll appear next right after KG. lol.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    TD is still a big difference maker…He’s certainly better than Boozer, Lopez, Allen, and West.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Duncan, Scola, Lee, take your pick. And JT, I think Horford is going to fill in that #2 Center spot.

  • Dagger

    37? Really? Basketball is about more than throwing up a ton of shots. The Celtics wouldn’t even be mentioned among the contenders without KG. Sure, he’s aging, but with that defence he’s still top-30.

  • http://sajkflf.com Jukai

    The spot is fine. Carry on.


    But the Celtics are not contenders Dagger.

  • http://bleacherreport.com/articles/670447-dwight-howard-and-andrew-bogut-a-tale-of-two-2011-all-nba-defensive-centers nbk

    if the Bulls and Lakers are contenders then the Celtics are contenders.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I see where you’re coming from with DLee but you have to remember he was coming off a career year with the Knicks, so his visibility was a lot higher than it is now after one season in GS.
    Also, his numbers dropped significantly with the Warriors.

  • chingy

    Without KG, the Celtics D will be similar to the Raps. Come on SLAM, this is too low for him.

  • Heals

    2 down with 2 more to go for the green regime…


    the C’s can no longer compete with Miami chicago and possibly NY(if they decide to fire O’Anthony). They’ll make for a good second round team.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I feel you JT, i just am saying what I think Slam’ll do. Lee was hurt and played next to Monta Ellis as well, not as free flowing a system as in NY which is the excuse i assume will be used. I dont think he deserves a spot, just think he’ll get one

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    The Celtics are no longer contenders?
    Wow, the gems just keep on dropping from the Mightily Unintelligent Boy Wanting Attention…Really?

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    M..U..B..W..A…Oh! Now I get it.


    nah just bored at work dude. how bout u since you keep responding to everyone?

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow


  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance dfrance21

    I never get too worked up over these rankings. I think Slam does a good job of including all the players that should be ranked, but the actual placement on the list always seems off. But that because everyone has a different idea of what makes someone a TOP player. And in my opinion, the Celtics are definitely still contenders. There’s not one team in the league that the Celtics don’t have a chance of beating in a 7 game series if all things are equal.

  • vtrobot
  • Shifty

    KG does not need to calm down, dude should go about his intense ways and keep making All defensive teams! I still think think the C’s should use him more in the post. The C’s are still contenders, whoever says they arn’t are tripping. But KG should be ranked higher, at least in top 30 and ecspecially not next to BOOZE. Come on Slam.

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    37th best player is cool… But not next to Booz though. KG no longer (and hasn’t been for a while) gets the ball exclusivley for scoring purposes; but when he does he puts in work. Also, there are certainly many ‘intangebles’ when it comes to KG defensivley. His ability to communicate to his team and intimidate while making smart defensive plays speak a lot more than just his blocks and rebounds.

  • Showtime

    Slam 50 should be “call no country for Old men” wow..37

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    nah yo… my dude kg needs to be a good 5-6 higher than boozer

  • ctkennedy

    TOO low for me …i would have him higher …but i can understand the rankings …still a top 10 skilled power forward …he just cant do it everything like he wants too….but his leadership n everything cant be undervalued

  • ctkennedy


  • TP

    Common SLAM. You know basketball better than to rank KG at 37. He’s top 30. Probably top 25. Do you guys drink when you’re making these lists? Seriously.

  • Armando

    David Lee better not be on this list.

  • Tony

    he’s got the ring, the MVP and DPOY, im satisfied… I will always have a man crush on this beast of a man

  • Irfan

    I hate the C’s and especially KG but I don’t know how he can be that little higher than Boozer. I think he should be ahead of Rondo and maybe Pierce. I don’t know if he can be a lot lower than Griffin, Duncan, Bosh, or even Gasol.
    That’s tough to rank these PFs and especially the ones aging, because you always have the image of their glorious past that sticks to your mind, but that being said KG (as well as TD) is still a beast on defence, a team leader, a very reliable offensive force, and plays usually better when it matters most.
    Should be top 30 to me.

  • Irfan

    Maybe the worst of all is to see Love ahead of him. OK he had great numbers but he’s nowhere near the defensive player KG is. It’s the very big & clear bias of your ranking so far SLAM, it seems like you didn’t even take into account the defensive side. Deng shouldn’t be so low, Ray shouldn’t be so low, Martin & Jennings & Lopez shouldn’t be so high (or even in the ranking for that matters). Please next time try to think about both ends of the court.

    Well it’s also time flying and one old Minnesotan letting a younger one pass him.

  • pbcballer

    Tim Duncan was at #14 last year, somebody posted earlier that Duncan was #50 in last years rankings, so i’m thinking that Duncan will still be on this list, Good spot for KG though

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Thats right f*ck my bad. I don’t know what made me think that. Maybe he was 50 on another sites list and I just mistaked it for last year. Either way, my fault slamily

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Didnt realize how underrated boozer was, Good spot for K.G., I would have him lower personally, but when it come to great you never want to write them off, so this is a good spot.

  • mgballer

    too low

  • http://www.slamonline.com big_ticket

    what the hell,kg number 37,.this list sucks

  • kacooh

    jennings on the top 50??? overrated… odom at 24, underrated… and KG at 37???? comm’on!!! he’s in the top 20…

  • http://dodgers.com Joey E.

    way way too high. KG is somewhere in the mid to high 40s, not 37

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    This list is losing credibility fast. Eric Gordon rates better than KG?

  • harlem_world

    This is too low. Disrespectfully so. He’s not going to be top 30 forever, no doubt, but as of last season, you’re still talking about a definite top 30 player in the league. List 30 better and at least 2 of your selections will expose your affinity for white rocks and naked flames.

  • http://www.jcolemusic.com Showtime

    Eric gordon is better at this point….

  • stats

    KG’s Career highlights and awards. Even though the writer suggest not to read into this which I agree. The fact is KG’s better than everybody on this list. And to list him along with Ray Allen at 48 and 50 of 2011 tells me that this writer doesn’t understand basketball or doesn’t pay attention to statistics.

    NBA Champion (2008)
    NBA Most Valuable Player (2004)
    NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2008)
    14× NBA All-Star (1997–1998, 2000–2011)
    4× All-NBA First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2008)
    3× All-NBA Second Team (2001–2002, 2005)
    2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2007)
    9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000–2005, 2008–2009, 2011)
    2× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2006–2007)
    NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1996)
    4× NBA rebounding champion (2004–2007)
    NBA All-Star Game MVP (2003)
    J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2006)

    95-96 MIN 80 43 28.7 0.491 0.286 0.705 2.2 4.1 6.3 1.8 1.1 1.6 1.38 2.36 10.4
    96-97 MIN 77 77 38.9 0.499 0.286 0.754 2.5 5.6 8.0 3.1 1.4 2.1 2.27 2.58 17.0
    97-98 MIN 82 82 39.3 0.491 0.188 0.738 2.7 6.9 9.6 4.2 1.7 1.8 2.34 2.73 18.5
    98-99 MIN 47 47 37.9 0.460 0.286 0.704 3.5 6.9 10.4 4.3 1.7 1.8 2.87 3.23 20.8
    99-00 MIN 81 81 40.0 0.497 0.370 0.765 2.8 9.0 11.8 5.0 1.5 1.6 3.31 2.53 22.9
    00-01 MIN 81 81 39.5 0.477 0.288 0.764 2.7 8.7 11.4 5.0 1.4 1.8 2.84 2.52 22.0
    01-02 MIN 81 81 39.2 0.470 0.319 0.801 3.0 9.1 12.1 5.2 1.2 1.6 2.83 2.27 21.2
    02-03 MIN 82 82 40.5 0.502 0.282 0.751 3.0 10.5 13.4 6.0 1.4 1.6 2.79 2.43 23.0
    03-04 MIN 82 82 39.4 0.499 0.256 0.791 3.0 10.9 13.9 5.0 1.5 2.2 2.59 2.46 24.2
    04-05 MIN 82 82 38.1 0.502 0.240 0.811 3.0 10.5 13.5 5.7 1.5 1.4 2.71 2.52 22.2
    05-06 MIN 76 76 38.9 0.526 0.267 0.810 2.8 9.9 12.7 4.1 1.4 1.4 2.37 2.71 21.8
    06-07 MIN 76 76 39.4 0.476 0.214 0.835 2.4 10.4 12.8 4.1 1.2 1.7 2.70 2.42 22.4
    07-08 BOS 71 71 32.8 0.539 0.000 0.801 1.9 7.3 9.2 3.4 1.4 1.2 1.94 2.30 18.8
    08-09 BOS 57 57 31.1 0.531 0.250 0.841 1.4 7.1 8.5 2.5 1.1 1.2 1.58 2.25 15.8
    09-10 BOS 69 69 29.9 0.521 0.200 0.837 1.1 6.2 7.3 2.7 1.0 0.8 1.46 2.46 14.3
    10-11 BOS 71 71 31.3 0.528 0.200 0.862 1.2 7.7 8.9 2.4 1.3 0.8 1.62 2.08 14.9
    Career – 1,195 1,158 36.7 0.498 0.282 0.788 2.5 8.3 10.7 4.1 1.4 1.6 2.37 2.48 19.5

    These are the facts peeps. :)

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    except this list has literally nothing to do with career accomplishments. Which tells me you as a commenter are dense.

  • http://www.twitter.com/JoshElam JE

    I’m not sure I can agree with his position rank. 11 Power forwards better than KG?

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