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|With the acquisition of PF Kevin Garnett, above, the Celtics improved their place in the Eastern Conference.(Courtesy of NBA.com)|
In a terrific offseason for the Celtics, no move was bigger than the trade to acquire 10-time All-Star Kevin Garnett on July 31. In a move that outshadowed the MLB trade deadline in Boston and nationwide (despite the Red Sox acquisition of Eric Gagne), the Celtics instantly became the hottest topic of discussion in the NBA, even more than the Tim Donaghy scandal. Along with Garnett came the eyes and attention of the rest of the NBA. Free agents all of a sudden were lining up to sign: right away, Danny Ainge inked Scot Pollard and Eddie House, then came former NBA champ James Posey. The Celtics did more that day than just trade for a great player. They traded for a superstar. They traded for respectability…they traded for relevance.
So what can I say? Kevin Garnett is a top 5 player in the NBA, and he is the big man the Celtics desperately needed. He’s currently ranked as the No. 1 Yahoo! Fantasy player (for those who take those rankings seriously) and he’s led the NBA in rebounding each of the last four seasons. There’s no use in analyzing any particular season of Garnett’s; they’re all the same. Every year he goes for 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. In fact, he’s the only guy to ever do that for nine consecutive seasons. He’s also the only player in history to reach at least 18,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 4,000 assists, 1,200 steals, and 1,500 blocks in his career. It’s obvious that Garnett puts up big numbers, and it’s important because it’s at a position the Celtics needed production from so desperately. So why do people dislike KG?
Well, you may remember my article from Aug. 30 (Kevin Garnett: Overrated?) when I challenged Skip Bayless’s claim that Kevin Garnett was one of the most overrated players in the NBA. In one part, I argued for the claim. He went through a very difficult postseason drought for seven straight seasons from 1997-2003, where he never escaped the first round of the playoffs. If there’s one knock on him, it’s his inability to succeed in the playoffs. But, it’s also easy to see that KG has never been surrounded by the talent he’s with now (Paul Pierce and Ray Allen).
With that said, I think KG’s impact on the team will send shockwaves throughout the Eastern conference. Traditionally the weaker conference, the East is now headlined by Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, New Jersey, AND Boston. The C’s really have a good chance to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. This would be incredible considering the horrible 24-win season last year, and impossible considering the team endured an 18-game losing streak.
This season, KG’s numbers may slip just a little now that he has two other superstars in the same lineup. A good passer for his size, Garnett’s assist total may rise, but expect his scoring numbers to fall just a little. Expect KG to play at power forward for most of the year, but he may also get some time at center if Kendrick Perkins ever gets into foul trouble, or if the C’s want to bring in a fast, scoring lineup. Either way, if Garnett can enjoy a typical-KG season (20 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, 2 blocks) then Celtics fans may be in for a treat. A good, healthy season from our trio of superstars may bring a 17th banner to the TD BankNorth Garden. At the very least, the Celts are now exciting once again thanks to Garnett’s arrival and it should be fun to watch.
Kevin Garnett’s player projection for 2007-2008: