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Kevin Garnett and 7 Players Who Have Nothing Left

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2012

Kevin Garnett and 7 Players Who Have Nothing Left

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    Thursday night was one that Kevin Garnett would like to forget. His Boston Celtics fell one basket short of a victory to their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Garnett had a chance for last-second heroics, but an awkward 21-footer that was out of his range never had a chance. All night, "The Big Ticket" looked inferior and hobbled compared to the Lakers bigs on the other end.

    In this lockout-shortened season, some NBA players have not played up to expectations. Others have had their best days behind them.

    So many of the NBA’s greats have thought they had enough for another productive season only to be a shell of their former selves late in their careers. Between injuries, old age and lack of talent, the breaks of the game wither these players out of "The Association" and into overseas or retirement.

    Every season, the best basketball players in the world lose a step. Here are the NBA players whose futures look dim.

Kevin Garnett

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    Viewers may have thought their eyes were deceiving them when they witnessed Kevin Garnett’s 6-for-23 shooting performance against Los Angeles last night.

    The last five years, Garnett had been the model of efficiency for the championship Celtics teams, providing toughness to their back line and executing the pick-and-pop with ease.

    But Father Time finally has something to say: This year, Garnett is no longer the KG of old.

    His offensive game is restricted to his 18-foot jumper, so everybody in the league plays up on him because they know what’s coming. His knees no longer have the freakish lift that wowed scouts when he came to the NBA out of high school. Knee surgeries have restricted his rebounding with the league’s giants.

    To add insult to injury, Garnett can no longer keep in front of NBA premiere forwards. The latest beneficiary of a matchup with KG was the Lakers' Pau Gasol, who exploded for 25 points and 14 rebounds, most likely fueled by an All-Star snub.

    Garnett has always been well regarded for his fire and passion on the court. It seems though, that the passion is all he has left.

Chauncey Billups

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    An Achilles injury is well-known to be one of the slowest to heal. Chauncey Billups was unfortunate to suffer an injury to his Achilles' heel on Monday against the Orlando Magic.

    I suspect this signals the end of Billups' career and his short stint with the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Billups will never lose his ability to stoke it from three-point range, but he’ll never have the lateral movement in his legs to keep up with NBA players.

    The point man for the 2004 champion Detroit Pistons team, he was always an underrated defender. In addition, whenever called upon, he took on the challenge of staying in front of 2-guards, no matter how big.

    With that said, three-point shooters who extend their careers into their late 30s usually are big men who can spread the floor. Unlike Billups, a frontcourt player does not rely upon his speed and quickness as much as a guard, so forwards and centers have a longer staying power in the league. 

    With his defensive ability now mired, Billups turns into a specialty player and a defensive liability.

    We may have seen the last big shot from Mr. Big Shot.

Baron Davis

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    NBA columnists and television analysts have associated a Knicks late-season push with Baron Davis’ return. Jeremy Lin aside, I’m not buying it.

    Davis is coming off a back surgery that has kept him sidelined for almost a year. The Knicks are trying to let his rehab and recovery takes its due course, which is a smart move. But one awkward bump, a fall onto the hardwood or a missed landing will be the end to B-Diddy’s career.

    To add insult to injury, the Davis pickup was a move for style but no substance. Davis is not the catch-and-shoot option that Carmelo Anthony needs to pass out of the double team. Davis is not the pick-and-roll wizard who will get Amar'e Stoudemire to put up 20-point averages again. Davis is the overweight, defense-averse point guard who succeeds in a free-flowing offense that he had short-lived success with as a Golden State Warrior. That style of play won’t work with this talented frontline that is better suited to a half-court offense and beat teams with their star talent.

    In addition, as Davis is getting older, his game is not a "veteran-friendly" style of play. He does not have a reliable jump shot like Ray Allen or a high basketball IQ like Grant Hill. He relies upon getting to the basket and finding his shot off the dribble.

    That’s a tough transition for an undisciplined guard, especially one with a back issue that raises a sea of red flags.

Jeff Green

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    The Boston Celtics acquired Jeff Green with the rationale that he would be one of the young stars who would carry the team’s old nucleus to a few more NBA Finals runs.

    After being diagnosed with a heart injury, I’m concerned about his NBA future.

    Green was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm and was declared out for the season before this season’s first whistle. While not all heart issues are life threatening on the basketball court, this may be serious enough for the Celtics forward to hang up his jersey. 

    After doing some health research, I found that in order to recover from an aortic aneurysm, Green will have to watch for high blood pressure which will limit his minutes. We may see him on an NBA floor next season, but Doc Rivers will only be able to play him in spurts. As a result, Green may lose his effectiveness as a basketball player.

    Green’s situation can only help remind me of Cuttino Mobley. The former Houston Rockets player averaged over 17 points a game and had a major heart condition that became life threatening on the basketball court. According to ESPN Outside the Lines, Mobley withheld this information from NBA teams, but decided to retire in 2008 due to the possible risks on his heart condition.

    If Green plays next season, we should know immediately if his injury is as concerning as the research indicates. Hopefully he will still be able to have a long career, but the doctor’s note could scare him off the court.

Jason Kidd

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    With the confetti sprinkling onto his shoulders and the Larry O’ Brien trophy in his hands, Jason Kidd was on the top of the basketball world.

    His NBA Finals couldn’t have been scripted any better. He hit big-time shots from outside, showed flashes of brilliance in the passing lanes and shocked the Miami Heat and the world with Dallas’ upset.

    Kidd had the perfect moment to go off into the sunset.

    But the allure of an NBA title defense was too great. Now J-Kidd is paying the price in his worst season to date. Kidd has only played 16 games this season and has been shooting only 28 percent from the field. Retirement sounds a lot better than the atrocious stat line (4.1 points, 5.1 assists and 9.22 PER) he averages.

    He could not stay in front of any guards last season either, but Tyson Chandler served as insurance down low to mask Kidd’s defensive ineptitude. With Chandler gone to New York and no replacement in the frontcourt, even Delonte West seems like a better option for the Mavericks backcourt.

    Kidd knows he has nothing left. The 17-year veteran just played one season too long

Gilbert Arenas

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    No NBA team has signed Gilbert Arenas since the Orlando Magic amnestied him in December. With so many NBA scouts turned off, the 30-year-old will be looking at early retirement.

    The four-time All-Star has played less than 100 games in his last four seasons, and his last season with Orlando was his least productive, with an average of 10.8 points, shooting 34 percent and a measly 10.39 PER. Those numbers are a huge dip from his career averages (21.4 PT, 42 FG%, 19.7 PER), as most of his best years were with Washington.

    After bringing guns into a NBA locker room and serving a 50-game suspension, Arenas seems to be associated with a “chemistry killer” label.

    Since his shooting has not been on par with the stats from earlier in his career, teams continue to stay away this season. If Arenas does not see NBA action this year, he will have missed almost four seasons worth of NBA basketball.

    Without his shooting stroke in top form, Arenas will be a less efficient NBA player than when he was in Orlando. Arenas is only as good as his ability to fill it up. He doesn’t have many redeeming qualities on the defensive end and on the boards. Stan Van Gundy tried to mold him into a playmaker because his lack of discipline and dedication led him to a bench spot behind Jameer Nelson.

    With the Lakers recently passing on Arenas' services, it seems his career arc from All-Star to out of work will continue to spiral downward.

Greg Oden

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    Playing in only 82 games in five seasons, Greg Oden has been one of the great tragedies in recent NBA history

    Before he suffers any more damage to his knees, Oden would be better served calling it quits when his one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers expires.

    The Blazers' first overall pick was supposed to be Portland’s anchor for the next 15 years. He displayed his potential in his only NBA action, averaging 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and protecting the rim with his 7-foot frame and long wingspan. 

    It was just announced this week that Oden would have another surgery to repair his knee and most likely be out for the season. It seems like his legs are too fragile for the hardwood.

Lamar Odom

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    The Dallas Mavericks thought they got away with stealing when they traded their trade exception to acquire former Sixth Man of the Year award winner, Lamar Odom. 

    Little did they know that Odom would be peeved, unmotivated and unhappy moving from Los Angeles. The transition has affected his game, both on the court and in the stat sheet.

    Odom has always been regarded as an emotional player, one who enjoys being on a team that thrives with him playing on the floor. Dallas is the first situation that his team’s best lineups are when he’s not on the floor

    With his worst statistical year to date, Odom does not have the body language on the floor that says he is going to commit to getting better. I’m convinced that if Odom feels he’s not wanted, he’ll continue to play uninspired and walk away from basketball.

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