3 December 2020

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A Look at the Careers of the 2020 Hall of Fame Class: Kevin Garnett

Garnett is one of the more underappreciated superstars to play the game. Garnett retired from the NBA in 2016 and is one year late to the Hall of Fame induction. KG made a name for himself as one of the best defenders in NBA history and was a regular in the NBA playoffs, making it 14 times in his career. He is best known for his time in Boston, but he was at his best in Minnesota. Here’s a look back at the career of Kevin Garnett:

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Kevin Garnett was drafted in 1995 by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth-overall pick in the draft. Garnett showed some promise in his rookie season, averaging over 10 points per game at just 19, and he earned all-rookie second-team honors.

In his second season, he began to really blossom. He made a case for Most Improved Player that year averaging 17 points instead of his 10.4 points the year prior. He also showed his incredible defense averaging 2.1 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. His play in his second season got him his first all-star appearance at just 20 years old. He brought them to the playoffs that year but lost in the first round.

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Garnett would spend another decade with the Timberwolves playing with them from 1995-2007. During that time, he would earn 10 all-star appearances during this time, eight All-NBA appearances, and eight All-Defensive appearances. The Timberwolves would make it to the playoffs eight times during his 12 years, but would only make it past the first round once. In the 2003-2004 season, it was different for Minnesota. 

Garnett’s 2004 season the best individual season of his career. He would go on to average 24.2 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. He shot 49.9% from the field and a 25.6% from deep on 0.5 attempts per game, which, back then, was pretty impressive for a Power Forward. Defensively, he averaged 2.2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. His incredible season would bring the T-Wolves 58 wins and the #1 seed in the Western Conference and they’d go all the way to the Western Conference Finals where they would lose in six games to the three-time reigning champion Shaq and Kobe Los Angeles Lakers. Garnett’s season would earn him the MVP, but unfortunately, it would be the last time Garnett would make the playoffs as a Timberwolf.

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett holds up the Maurice Podoloff Trophy after being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in Minneapolis, Monday, May 3, 2004. [AP]

After some controversy, the T-Wolves would get into trouble and would not make the playoffs again until 2018. Kevin Garnett would be traded to the Celtics in the 2007 offseason.

Photo: Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

After his 12 years in Minnesota, Garnett had one goal left in mind: a championship. The one thing missing from the resume he hoped to add with the help of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Garnett would get his wish the same year he was traded there as Pierce, Allen, Garnett, and the Boston Celtics would defeat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in a six-game series. Along with his championship, Garnett would be named Defensive Player of the Year as well. He averaged 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals, but those stats wouldn’t begin to show how incredible he was on defense.

The Celtics would fall to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the Second Round the next year but would return to the NBA Finals for a rematch against Kobe Bryant in 2010. The now 33-year-old Kevin Garnett and the Celtics would take Kobe to seven games but would fall just short of another NBA Championship.

Garnett spent three more years with the Celtics, making the playoffs each of those three years. His time in Boston earned him another five All-Star appearances, four All-Defensive appearances, and one last All-NBA appearance to go along with his Defensive Player of the Year Award and his Championship.

In 2012, they would take LeBron James and the Miami Heat to seven games as well, but that would be Garnett’s last real shot at a title; or so he thought.

Photo: Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

In the 2013 offseason, Garnett, Pierce, and Terry would all be traded to the Brooklyn Nets where they would join Deron Williams and Joe Johnson to form what was supposed to be a superteam that could rival the Miami Big 3. It didn’t work out, though as Garnett would only play 54 games and injuries to Williams and Lopez would hurt their season massively. They still managed to grab the #4 seed and the Nets would make it to the Second Round where they’d once again fall to the Miami Big 3.

This would be the now 38-year-old’s last time seeing the playoffs. He’d be traded from Brooklyn to his original team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the following season and Garnett would play one last season there before retiring at the age of 39.

Garnett had one of the most incredible careers out of any player in the NBA. His defense and size made him one of the best players, and arguably the second-best Power Forward in NBA history. His induction into the Hall of Fame is long overdue and it’s great to see the former MVP and Champion finally receive the honor.

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