There are quite a few former NBA players, including those with prominent platforms, that seem to have a high level of criticism for the way the game is played today. Too many three-point attempts and not enough defense is the most common critique levied at the league and while it’s a topic that has it’s merits, it’s the type of “get off of my lawn” standpoint that accentuates the disconnect between the new generation of hoopers and prior ones.
However, for every Charles Barkley, there’s a Kevin Garnett.
Garnett, in an interview with David Marchese of the New York Times, offered what was one of the most refreshing takes on the way the game is played today that you’ll find from a former player.
“The game is at another level,” Garnett says.
“Defensive players have to take angles away and stuff like that. But if you have any creativity and ambition, you can be a great offensive player in this league. The fadeaways, one-leg runners, the one-leg balance shots — that’s stuff that Dirk Nowitzki brought to our game. And now when I watch Joker play, it feels like he has taken that Dirkness and mixed it with his own talent. And Steph Curry revolutionized things with being able to shoot it from distance with such consistency. Klay Thompson. Dame Lillard. These guards changed the game.”
Garnett, the fifth overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft and a 15-time All-Star, is exactly the type of player that would have thrived in today’s game. A three-position player who was long, athletic and fiery enough to guard anybody, what allowed Garnett to stand out from the pack was his multi-faceted skillset.
At 6-foot-11, Garnett could score from all three levels and he didn’t need to be set up for a basket to do it. He was also an excellent passer who routinely played point-forward in his mid-20s. In this day and age, Garnett would be a like a souped-up version of Pascal Siakam; a Dodge Hellcat compared to a Dodge Charger.
The league has become so filled with multi-dimensional talents that, without defenses being allowed to be physical with offensive players, Garnett says he isn’t sure if players from 20 or 30 years ago could keep up. While there are some that may take KG’s comments as an opprobrium of past players’ skill levels, it’s clear that Garnett is simply noting just how dynamic the game has become.
“It’s creative. It’s competitive. It’s saucy. You’ll get dropped! A [expletive] will cross you over and break your A.C.L. these days,” quips Garnett.
“The game is in a great place.”