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Kevin Garnett -- man among boys?

With the Minnesota Timberwolves finally landing a talented cast of characters to play alongside Kevin Garnett, we may get to see one of the NBA's premiere players in a late round playoff game. His 2002-03 regular season campaign though will remain a year for the ages!

How good is Garnett? How much did he mean to the T'Wolves last year?

1) On court versus Off court comparisons
Team Stat
ON Court
OFF Court
Net
Minutes
3285
633
83%
Points Scored
100.7
87.4
+13.3
Points Allowed
94.9
104.5
-9.6
Net Points
+5.8
-17.1
+22.8
FG% Offense
47.3%
42.4%
+4.9%
FG% Defense
43.0%
47.5%
+4.5%
An easy way to get a quick read on a player's worth to his team is to compare the team's performance with him on the court to when he was on the bench (resting in a game, fouled out, or out with an injury).

Garnett made an incredible difference!

When he was on the floor Minnesota beat their opponents by almost six points per 48 minutes of play. When he was off the floor they were outscored by seventeen points! That's a net gain when K.G. was playing of almost 23 points per game!!! KG was #1 in the league in this stat -- for reference, Nowitzki was #2 at +18, and Duncan #3 at +14.

No single player meant more to his team than Garnett!

2) Floor Time Won-Lost Record
Player
Team
+/-
W
L
Pct
Nowitzki
DAL
11.6
64
16
80.0
Robinson
SA
9.6
49
15
76.6
Nash
DAL
9.0
60
22
73.2
Finley
DAL
11.9
50
19
72.5
Webber
SAC
7.2
48
19
71.6
Duncan
SA
8.1
58
23
71.6
Bibby
SAC
8.8
39
16
70.9
Garnett
MIN
5.8
58
24
70.7
Christie
SAC
9.4
56
24
70.0
Stojakovic
SAC
8.4
50
22
69.4
If you look at a player's plus/minus stats on a game-by-game basis you can assign wins and losses to individual efforts. For instance if in a game when a player was on the floor his team was up by a net of two points, you could call that a win, whereas if his team was outscored while on the floor he gets a loss -- regardless of the actual overall outcome of the game.

For better accuracy, we adjust the wins and losses based on the quality of the oppositon while a player was on the floor!

The table above shows the top ten NBA players in this stat (who played at least 40% of their team's total minutes). Checking in at #8 is our man Kevin, but note how his overall +/- per 48 minutes rating is lower than the other leaders. Kevin didn't play on a powerhouse team, but he was a powerhouse player! This stat measures consistency among other things, and K.G. was marvelous in giving his team a lead during his playing time (over 70% of the time).

3) Defensive Rebounding
Player
Team
Def. Reb
Chances
Reb%
Wallace
DET
823
2925
28.1%
Garnett
MIN
872
3621
24.1%
Grant
MIA
596
2541
23.5%
Duncan
SA
839
3608
23.3%
Murphy
GS
594
2855
20.8%
On a percentage basis (the best measure since opportunities vary), Garnett was the #2 defensive rebounder in the league! He actually grabbed more total defensive boards than anyone.

Elite rebounder? Yes!

4) Clutch Scorer

It's one thing to be a great player, but another to be a great player under pressure. We chart how players do in clutch moments of a game, which we define as the 4th quarter and overtime where neither team has a lead of more than five points. Putting Kevin's clutch stats onto a 48 minute average shows the following:

By
FG
FGA
FG%
eFG%
Ast'd
Blk'd
FTM
Pts
48 Min
11.9
22.4
.530
.534
54%
8%
6.5
30.4

He doesn't shy away from taking the big shots, and while with some players' performance drops off in critical moments, for Garnett his effective field goal percentage (adjusting for three points shots) is actually higher with the game on the line than it is overall. He had a .508 eFG% for all minutes, but a .534 eFG% in money-time.

Not only that, 46% of his baskets came unassisted which means even with the entire world knowing the ball was going to K.G. he could still create his own shot and manufacture points by himself.

5) Outstanding Passer

Being able to put the ball through the net is wonderful, but the very best scorers also learn that by being a great passer as well they can really make a team go and punish opponents for double-teaming too often. Kevin Garnett has nothing to apologize for on the passing front:

Passing Stats
Jump
Assists
Close
Assists
Dunk
Assists
Total
Assists
Passing
T/O's
Assist/
Bad Pass
AST48
301
148
46
495
82
6.0 7.2

The typical assist to turnover ratio you hear bandied about is pretty misleading -- a lot of turnovers for some players come when the last thing on their mind is passing! What matters more is how often a pass is thrown away or stolen compared to the number of assists. Garnett's 6.0 ratio on that front is very solid, and at 7.2 assists per 48 minutes of playing time he is finding his teammates successfully. Imagine what his numbers will be like this year, when he's passing more and has multiple offensive threats to throw to!

6) Defensive Impact
Points Allowed per 48 Minutes
Player
Team
On Court
Off Court
Team Net
Ostertag
UTA
86.6
98.8
12.2
Garnett
MIN
94.9
104.5
9.6
Duncan
SAS
88.9
97.9
9.0
Coleman
PHI
89.7
98.5
8.8
Robinson
SAS
85.6
94.4
8.7
Cheaney
UTA
89.4
98.0
8.6
DeClercq
ORL
93.4
101.6
8.3
Kukoc
MIL
94.7
102.5
7.8
Battie
BOS
88.8
96.4
7.6
Ratliff
ATL
94.4
102.0
7.6

Effective Field Goal% Allowed
Player
Team
On Court
Off Court
Team Net
Duncan
SAS
0.444
0.495
0.051
Garnett
MIN
0.463
0.513
0.050
Robinson
SAS
0.432
0.470
0.038
Outlaw
PHO
0.451
0.486
0.036
Ostertag
UTA
0.449
0.485
0.036
Clark
SAC
0.426
0.461
0.035
Williamson
DET
0.443
0.478
0.035
Foyle
GSW
0.463
0.497
0.034
Coleman
PHI
0.468
0.501
0.033
Kukoc
MIL
0.475
0.507
0.032


While we haven't yet released our full-on individual player defensive stats and ratings (coming soon!) it's clear that Garnett boosts the defense of the Timberwolves when he's on the court. Of players in the game for at least 1/3 of the team's total minutes, he ranks #2 in the league in defensive impact! The Timberwolves yield almost ten points fewer per 48 minutes with Garnett providing a formidable defensive force.

With some of the top ten players listed it's partly a matter of the team playing a slower pace game with them on court, but that's not the case with K.G. -- the effective field goal percentage (adjusted for three point shots) allowed to opponents also changes dramatically when Garnett is on the sidelines. Tim Duncan edges Garnett by the smallest of margins for top player in the league in this stat category...and we know what happened to Duncan's Spurs in '02-03!

While Minnesota's defense didn't approach the very best teams in the league even with Garnett playing, there's little doubt that his positive influence on that side of the ball is considerable.


Truth be told, we could sing the praises of Garnett all day. Anyone who thinks that the lack of playoff success for the Timberwolves is some kind of blemish on his game is blind to the facts: Garnett is one of the top five players in the league. Now finally he has the personnel around him to really be a force. If Minnesota was in the East, they would be the favorite to make the finals, obviously in the West it's another matter to get through the Lakers, Spurs, Kings and Mavericks. If everything comes together with the new guys in tow, the T'Wolves will be an opponent to avoid in the post-season.

Having said all that, there are a few areas where it would be nice to see some improvement. His shooting late in the shot clock could be better (a .390 effective field goal percentage with 21+ seconds gone), but that should change with more guys who can get a shot off on their own in the lineup. Too often K.G. has been forced to make something out of nothing when the halfcourt set breaks down.

With a player of Garnett's height and athleticism it would be nice to see him take more of his shots from close to the basket (only 23% of his field goal attempts we deemed to be from close range, but with a .719 eFG). There too if he did go inside more often, he would boost his foul drawing from an okay 12.8% to a more superstar worthy level.

All in all though, we're quibbling, this guy is flat out brilliant. In a season where the top stories figure to be the Lakers dream team and LeBron James, keep an eye on the Timberwolves!

*** For more in-depth stats, see the Kevin Garnett player pages.


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