Called Out: KG Stand Up!
Pau Gasol said it with out so much as a smile on his face.
On Kevin’s part, he’s also lost some explosiveness. He’s more of a jump shooter now you could say, comes off the lane. Before he had a really, really quick first step and was getting to the lane and he was more aggressive then. Time passes and we all suffer it one way or another, but he’s still a terrific player, a terrific competitor, and he’s going to bring everything he’s got. You can count on that. ~ Pau Gasol
Kevin Garnett, not surprisingly, disagrees with Gasol’s assessment.
Garnett didn’t exactly come out and say he disagreed with Gasol, but the fact that he had “no comment for [Gasol’s] comment” speaks loud enough for me.
The only problem with Garnett disagreeing with Gasol is that Gasol is right. Garnett is less aggressive, has lost a step, he does shoot from the outside a lot, and he clearly has aged. Sorry, KG, it’s the truth.
The numbers don’t lie. While KG does go “inside” a marginal amount more than he did in 2008, when the Celtics won the NBA Championship, you can see the lack of aggression and the settling for jump shots in KG’s severe drop off in free throw attempts. Yes, the move from Minnesota to Boston offered KG fewer opportunities to make plays, but even when you compare KG’s free throw prowess now to what it used to be two years ago when he joined Boston, you will see a drop-off of exactly 25%, from 5.2 attempts per game to 3.9.
Not to mention, you can see KG’s rebounding numbers falling off as well. Forget about KG’s MVP season when he was raking in 20% of all missed shots. You only have to back to the Celtics championship season, when KG boarded 16.8% of all rebounds. But now, that number is down to 15.1% this past regular season, which amounts to a drop off of over 10%. That’s the difference between grabbing 10 rebounds in a game and grabbing 8. A huge difference? No. But is that margin big enough to note the decline Gasol pointed out? Certainly.
I’m all for Kevin Garnett proving Gasol wrong and having the game of his life in Game 2 on Sunday night. However, I’m not sure KG can do that anymore—especially on the nightly basis. Sure, he could get angry tomorrow and hustle out a 20 and 15 game if his teammates pitch in. But then what will he do on Tuesday, the following Thursday and again next weekend?
KG is aging. It happens to them all. Tim Duncan isn’t the same guy anymore. Shaquille O’Neal isn’t the same guy anymore. Heck, even Steve Nash and Jason Kidd have demonstrated signs of depreciation in minutes and/or play. It happens to the best of them.
Most players realize that. Most players figure out how to fine-tune their game to fit the team they are playing with. There’s no doubt that Kevin Garnett did that when he came to Boston. He became a great defender and an efficient jump shooter for a Boston team that really needed that from the four-position. If KG can rev himself up for that role again, he will have done his job, I won’t point any fingers and Gasol won’t be running his mouth after the game.
However, I’m afraid of what KG might do in Game 2. We might not see him defer. We might not seem him hit that open jumper. His talent and age have been questioned, and anyone that knows KG knows Garnett is going to play with Gasol’s comments serving him as motivation. That might mean passing up on an open jumper for a drive to the rim, throwing a nasty elbow in the paint, or getting in foul trouble trying to be too aggressive with Gasol in the post. Man, the damage could be never-ending.
So which KG will show up? The KG of old, or the old, kind of dirty, KG of late? Who knows, but I’m 100% sure Pau Gasol will find out rather quickly.
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