Is KG still athletic enough to start at PF?
Garnett, whom the Boston Celtics agreed to trade with Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Nets on Thursday, can't call his vertical his strength anymore. However, his leadership and intensity are exactly what Brooklyn needs next to Brook Lopez, making up for Garnett's aging legs.
Lopez averaged more points per game than every center in the league not named LaMarcus Aldridge in the 2012-13 campaign, scoring 19.4 a night. The 25-year-old seven-footer is an elite offensive performer, but he isn’t nearly as efficient defensively or on the glass.
Opposing centers averaged a player efficiency ratio of 17.3 against Lopez last season, according to 82games.com (the league average is 15.0). He also only averaged 6.9 rebounds per game. Shawn Marion averaged 7.8, and he’s five inches shorter.
Defensive intensity is contagious. Garnett, arguably the most passionate player in the NBA, will increase Lopez’s effectiveness by example. Boston surrendered 9.4 more points per 100 possessions when Garnett was off the floor than when he was on this past season, according to 82games.com.
Not only will the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer help improve the Nets' team defense, but he’s still a respectable individual performer in his own right.
He averaged 14.8 points and 7.8 boards in just 29.7 minutes per game. Garnett's shooting percentage, 49.6, is only 0.2 lower than his career average. In the playoffs this year, his rebounding numbers skyrocketed to 13.7 per game.
Garnett isn’t the go-to scorer he used to be, but Brooklyn doesn't need him to be. It has that in Lopez. The Nets will have more than enough scoring with him, Deron Williams, Pierce, Joe Johnson and Terry in the same rotation.
What Brooklyn does need is a leader who will instill a winning culture in its locker room and demand defensive intensity on the hardwood. Few players in the league are more suited for such a task than Garnett, if any.
David Daniels is a Breaking News writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.