Sunday, September 29th, 2013 at 3:00 pm  |  48 responses

Top 50: Kevin Garnett, no. 38

The Big Ticket is ready to claim New York.

by Sam Rubenstein / @samrubenstein

Kevin Garnett has played over 50,000 NBA minutes including the Playoffs, and he’s been a screaming lunatic for every one of them. There are other players on the Brooklyn Nets who are “better” than KG at this point in his NBA lifetime. The guy is heading into his 19th (!!!!) season, and he’s just three years younger than the coach. His stats have been fading away over the past few years, and most people would have understood if he called it a career. His Hall of Fame ticket is already stamped and there’s not much left for him to prove. There’s about $25 million coming his way over the next two years, which is plenty of motivation, but it seemed like last season people were nudging him toward the next phase of life.

If only he were the type of guy who could go away quietly. The last time KG changed teams, he took a mess that was lost in the NBA wasteland to an insta-ring. He showed up in Boston and brought a passion for playing defense and excitement about the team concept. The one who failed seven years in a row in the first round became a distant memory as KG’s completely over-the-top intensity manifested itself in that Championship and a lifetime of memorable playoff memories.

The Brooklyn Nets are desperate for all of those things, but mostly the passion. They swung and missed on LeBron, Dwight, Carmelo, you name it. Their first season in their new location had a few moments, but nothing to match the hype that comes with all things Brooklyn. I live in Brooklyn and there was Gerald Wallace propaganda on display near my home. Yes, the Nets were desperate to generate some type of on court buzz to match everything else they put into their branding. Kevin Garnett has “it” and that makes the Nets exciting, even dangerous. But this isn’t about them, this is about him and his place on the list.

At this point in his career, Kevin Garnett is the fourth or fifth best offensive player among Nets starters. It won’t be his job to put up points. With Brook Lopez taking deep jumpers and staying far away from the glass, it will be up to KG to rebound, intimidate inside, and keep the team blood flowing. Last year, Deron Williams had a game where he hit 9 threes in the first half. The response from the general public was that finally something exciting happened at the Barclay’s Center.

If KG provided nothing else, at least he brings some good pageantry. Headbutting before the game, screaming at rookies, making inappropriate comments on the court about breakfast cereals. He brings a lot to your team, and he becomes the vocal/spiritual/emotional leader of a team that desperately needed one. That’s enough to get you a spot on the Top 50.

KG makes it feel like there’s a big game in the building that night, even if he’s no longer the player he used to be. His presence turns Nets-Knicks into a legitimate blood rival feud. He even has some people wondering if Brooklyn can disrupt LeBron’s march towards his seven-peat. Realistically, KG will spend part of this season on the shelf, stalking the sidelines in a tasteful sweater, screaming at his teammates. He might miss chunks of the season, and he won’t play huge minutes. And that’s OK. He’s still an impact player from the locker room and on the bench. He’ll be interviewed on the bench during games, and those interviews will be funny and charming. When he does play, the Nets will play well.

Fine, a lot of this is intangibles talking, and in today’s world everything has to be justified with data. The truth is that he’s not as good as he used to be, and he never will be again (unless there’s a raging PED epidemic in the NBA, and hey you never know). He’ll likely average less than 14 ppg. His rebounds and blocks won’t jump out at you, except there will be nights where he turns back the clock and you remember. His fans will direct you to his per 36 minute stats and anything else they can use to build a case.

So while Kevin Garnett might not be as “good” as say, LaMarcus Aldridge, he’s still got qualities that make him Top 50. If he feels disrespected, slighted, overlooked, then everything changes.

Where should Kevin Garnett rank in the SLAM Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12
41 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 10
40 Joe Johnson Nets SG 4
39 Serge Ibaka Thunder PF 9
38 Kevin Garnett Nets PF 8

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • LLC#12

    Great competitor, but I can’t see him contributing more this season than a lot of the guys he is ranked above. 15 and 8 last season, likely to drop this season. This is a very generous ranking.

  • spit hot fiyah

    i don’t see him playing even 30 min/game. his minutes should be very effective though on both ends. ranking feels a little high at first glance

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Except the whole…he’s still the premier defensive 4 in the league thing…….

  • swag

    you’re giving this ranking based on his history. I think new team dynamics will hinder garnett plus what motivation does a team like nets have

    when the Heat, Pacers, Bulls clearly outmatch them in size speed and strenght

    i’d tank if i were the nets and grab wiggins and randle to build a franchise around

  • LLC#12

    Arguable that he’s the premier. Irrespective of that, I just don’t think, his on court importance this season, will be among the top 50 in the league. Where do you rate his importance on his own team? 2nd most important player, 3rd most, 4th?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    He will be the 2nd most important in the playoffs. Regular season wise you could be right, that team is totally stacked, they could just coast through the season. But if he does play around 30mpg and plays in 65+ games, he’s definitely a top 50 player

  • swill

    premier defensive four and possibly the premier team defender.

  • underdog

    IMO, strictly statistically KG won’t have a great season, because the team he’s on is one of the deepest in the league. But his leadership, his locker-room presence is going to be extremely valuable for the Nets. So if he “just” manage to keep the whole roster motivated, and help out his first year coach, meanwhile not putting too many numbers on his stat-sheet, he still worth his money.

  • Octavious

    What motivation do the Nets have? Outmatched in size and strength? Tank with this roster? What are you on?

  • LLC#12

    He’s probably a top 50 player if he manages 30mpg. My issue is just that he’s above guys who will have to do a lot more for their teams, and will have better seasons. You’re right about the playoffs though, that will be his time.

  • Joey

    In no particular order

    Unless one of these guys is classified as a center, someone’s getting robbed

  • GG

    Duncan will be a center

  • RKJ92

    My favorite player ever, and he’s still in the top 40 of the league. Love it! the guy is a workhorse.

  • Hum


  • Max

    He must be on swag.

  • Interdico Scriptor

    I don’t see the Heat overmatching anyone in size. Bo$h, Anderson + Haslem are’t too big. I’m not including Oden & the Pacers which are easily bigger, arguably as fast, as strong.

  • Rav

    15 and 8 was as good/better than Gasol last season, and Gasol is no spring chicken

  • Rav

    Gasol was not better than KG last year. Granted, Gasol was injured for most of it. Nevertheless, do you see Gasol averaging 14 boards in a playoff series (while also matching up against Tyson Chandler) in the coming years?

    If you include defensive impact, It’s not tough to argue that KG should be considered better than Z-Bo as well.

  • Rav

    The Nets have four players who are 6’11″ or taller. (KG, Lopez, Blatche, Plumlee – the first three will be their big-man rotation)

    The Heat don’t outmatch any team in the league in terms of height.

  • Evan Boland

    For everyone thinking he is overrated, remember his play in the 2012 ECF taking MIA to game 7. He may not be the 38th best player in the regular season, but he’ll be arguably top 20 come playoff time.

  • Zabbah

    Duncan much, much better than Bosh. Just compare the huge differences in numbers during those 7 games played in the Finals.

  • Conor

    K.G.’s going to be like Brooklyn’s Rodman/K.A.J./Mullen hybrid.

    He’s humble enough to understand that it is Williams’ and Lopez’s team as well as his own and Paul Pierce’s and he’s still one of the three best defenders in the League, in his nineteenth season. His and Duncan’s respective defensive renaissances have been like Bryant’s continued offensive brilliance. Though he’s occasionally classless, no one should underestimate Garnett who I believe stands with Duncan, Kidd, Rodman, Olajuwon, Thomas, Cooper, Pippen, K.A.-J., Wilt, & Russell as the best defensive players of all time.

    By the time the Playoffs arrive, barring injury/fatigue, Brooklyn will be lethal this season.

  • idk

    Power Forward and Point Guard positions are stacked this year in fantasy. SG is a bit weak. But they got some specialty guys like Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal to fill in rosters nicely.

  • Fitzy

    We all better appreciate the time we have left with KG on the basketball court. He’s the last of his kind.

  • danpowers

    kidd wasnt specific about this, but as far as i remember he said “minutes restrictions and no back to backs”.

    i agree what you state about the playoffs, but there is no way that he meets the requirements to be in the top 50 during the regular season – productions wise. (imo overall counts, not only how efficient smb is throughout a “couple” of mins).

    this top 50 rank for him is a lifetime achievement award.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    ehh, i’ll believe he doesn’t play a single back to back when that actually happens. there are 20 for Brooklyn this year. So if he doesn’t play in a single one, that’s 20 missed games.

  • danpowers

    20 games misses minimum. a 60 games season could still put a good player into the 50 and it would be legit. but no back to backs as a handicap known even b4 the season PLUS a minute restriction is what makes me say that his 38 rank doesnt make any sense.

    if he was cleared to play 30 a game like anybody else, i wouldnt have a problem with that rank tho.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    and where are you getting that he isn’t cleared to play 30MPG?

  • latb

    Didn’t the Nets sweep the Pacers last year?

  • danpowers

    minutes restrictions in the context of no back to backs + his age imply that. i could be wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i would assume 30mpg is his restriction if he has one.

  • danpowers

    even then – age and that back to back issue remains. we will see soon if this rank is legit.

  • AndyK415

    Can’t wait until the Wolves retire his number


    I hope you aren’t talking about the Playoffs

  • latb

    The Nets didn’t play the Pacers in the playoffs.

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  • Clos1881

    He is the most important player on the nets no other player on the team bring what he does.

  • Clos1881

    Billy king said there will be no restrictions on him he said if he needs to rest they will rest him but that’s for all their players

  • Clos1881

    ducan was on a minutes restriction and misses back to backs

  • Clos1881

    You’re bugging the bulls don’t have the offensive fire power to win a ring I like the pacers and Dwayne wades body is damn near as old as kg’s

  • Clos1881

    Other than hibbert what bigs do the pacers have that are a legit 6-10 and up that can play. ?

  • danpowers

    thanks for the update

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