Sure, the team is pretty much stacked at every position on the roster. However, the absence of Garnett could be the domino that causes the Nets' frontcourt to crumble.
He’s that important to the team.
Back in July, Brooklyn hit the jackpot by landing Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in a trade with the Boston Celtics. It was a move that immediately shot the team up the list of NBA title contenders.
With Garnett, the Nets certainly have the leadership and experience to carry them to glory. Without him, the future doesn’t look as optimistic.
He IS Brooklyn's Frontcourt Depth
As it stands, Garnett is slated to be the team’s starting power forward for 2013-14. At the same time, he’s also the best option to back up Brook Lopez at center.
God forbid, the 18-year veteran misses some time due to injury—a very good possibility, given that he’s played less than 70 games four times over the past six seasons—where do the Nets turn?
The likeliest solution is a mix of Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche. It was a combination that gave Brooklyn headaches on both sides of the ball.
While Evans' 11.1 rebounds per game were certainly impressive, his scoring average (4.5 points) was not. In fact, he was a large reason the Nets ranked last in the league in point production (12.2 PPG) from the power forward position via HoopsStats.com.
Defensively, the frontcourt had issues as a whole.
Brooklyn ranked 27th in the NBA in post defense, allowing 0.888 points per possession. Furthermore, the team had four players who ranked in the bottom 41 percent of the league in defending on the block—Blatche (41 percent), Lopez (38), Kris Humphries (27) and Evans (10).
That’s where the team hopes Garnett’s intensity on defense can help.
Last year, the 37-year-old allowed just 0.765 points per possession. He ranked eighth among players with at least 650 total possessions defended.
But Garnett’s presence on the court also had a significant impact on the Celtics’ overall defense.
With him on the court, the team posted a 96.2 defensive rating and a plus-minus of plus-112. Without Garnett, those numbers changed to 104.6 and minus-130 respectively.
Boston also ranked sixth overall in the NBA, allowing just 0.906 points per possession.
The proof is in the pudding as far as Garnett’s defensive contribution goes. Now, it’s up to the Nets to ensure they make the most out of it.
He Knows What It Takes to Lead a Team and Win a Title
Nobody can question Garnett’s track record.
For the first 12 years of his career, Garnett was stuck in mediocrity with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even still, the 15-time All-Star was productive, averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and 1.5 blocks per game in nine straight seasons from 1998-2007.
But Garnett’s biggest contribution was leading the Timberwolves to the franchise’s first playoff appearance in just his second year in the league back in 1996-97. He would also lead the team to the postseason in each of the next seven seasons, culminating in a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2003-04.
During the summer of 2007, Garnett was traded to the Celtics and immediately had an impact. Along with Pierce and Ray Allen, he helped deliver the franchise its 17th NBA title and first since 1986. Garnett led the way, averaging 20.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 blocks per game while bringing home the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year award.
Nobody else on Brooklyn’s roster, other than Pierce, can say they’ve accomplished as much.
Summing It All Up
Entering his 19th season in the league, it would be foolish to expect Garnett to average anywhere close to his numbers from previous years. However, his experience and leadership will always remain with him.
Sure, Garnett may make waves for his below-the-belt style of trash talk. But there’s no question he’ll put his all on the line for his team, his city and his teammates.
That facet alone can not be replaced.