Meet the New Guys

They’re in. Are you?

1) Kevin Garnett

Hello Brooklyn. I’m #2, Kevin Garnett, NBA Champion and hater of Honey Nut Cheerio’s.

I don’t need to list KG’s credentials, but it’s fun to do. NBA Champion. 2004 MVP. 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. 15-time All-Star. The man has had an incredible, prolific, Hall-of-Fame career. He’s one of the greatest and toughest big men to ever play the game of basketball.

But Garnett isn’t a young dude anymore. He’s 37, he only wants to play 25 minutes a game and he’s certainly been healthier.

However, this doesn’t mean he won’t be making an impact with the Nets, because they wouldn’t have given up two additional draft picks for him if he didn’t have a lot of something left.

I believe Garnett’s biggest impact this season will come on the defensive end. The Nets are a team loaded with scorers. They can shoot from all over the floor. What they need out of Garnett is his toughness, his ability to defend the post and a little board-crashing.

Good news, Garnett can do it.

Last season, Garnett single-handedly changed Boston’s defensive culture. When KG was on the floor for the Celtics, Boston posted a defensive rating of 96.2. When he was off it, they posted a rating of 104.2. That’s the difference a player of his caliber makes.

The upgrade defensively from the Reggie Evans/Kris Humphires/Andray Blatche power forward cycle to Kevin Garnett is beyond comprehensible. The team that let in easy paint buckets is gone. Nothing gets by Garnett without him hollering in his man’s face and attempting a blocked shot. He doesn’t take games or plays off. He is 100% intense, 100% of the time.

Definitely a nice change from years past.

Garnett’s intensity on the defensive floor will also be a huge contribution upon joining the Nets. Known for his trash-talking that has spawned rivalries and fights with players, we can expect that KG will bring that added energy that was clearly lacking in the Nets-Bulls playoff series. Having Garnett on this roster that is already a talented group does just as much off the game floor as it does on it.

Of course, Garnett will also contribute a great deal on the offensive end as well. And the good news with that, too, is that Garnett has been pretty much the same player since he arrived in Boston. His first year with the Celtics, he averaged 18.8 points and 9.2 rebounds, by far his best season with the club. But since then, he has averaged 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds over the last five seasons. Garnett put up 14.8/7.8 last year, which is right on mark with this trend. Expecting those same numbers out of Garnett again this year, providing he stays healthy, is not unrealistic.

The danger is that eventually, Garnett will no longer be able to play basketball. His body will break down with his age. The Nets just have to hope it happens later rather than sooner. A healthy Kevin Garnett can do wonders for a team who ranked 17th in the league in defensive rating.

Next: Paul Pierce