Kevin Garnett: 5 Priorities & Adjustments Celtics Forward Must Make This Summer
Last year the Celtics' core "Big Four" played more than two-thirds of the time. The person who got the least amount of time happened to be KG, averaging only 31.3 minutes per game over 71 regular season games and 36.4 minutes per game over nine games in the playoffs.
KG still had enough left in him during the playoffs to ensure that the Celtics were not completely exposed in the front court in the playoffs but it wasn't enough.
With complete uncertainty about what the Celtics may look like from a depth perspective, KG must adjust his body as he may end up playing more time against the Dwight Howards and Andrew Bynums of the world than he did last year.
Here are the adjustments that KG must make to remain effective next year.
Get JaJuan Johnson Up to Speed...Fast
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JaJuan Johnson from a physical standpoint looks much like Kevin Garnett. His new coach even thinks so. Doc Rivers had this to say about JaJuan Johnson (Via CelticsHub.com):
“He adds length and he’s a shot blocker. I don’t know how quick his feet are yet, since I haven’t had him show on a lot of pick and rolls. Hopefully I’ll know by next week. Same body type as Kevin Garnett. At the same time in their lives, he’s probably a better shooter than Kevin. There’s a lot of upside things with him.”
So the coach thinks there are comparisons, so why not go the distance and make him a protege? With Garnett driving Johnson, he will give himself a partner on the court who can give him a spell when needed and partner with him on help defense.
One of the big reasons Johnson was targeted by the Celtics was that he is a big man with a soft touch but he can also bring it defensively. KG would be wise to become a mentor rather than a leader in this instance.
Stay Loose During Rest Time
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Doc has envisioned a new way for KG to be used during each game. Rather than using two eight-minute periods per half, he will instead have KG take two breaks per half and be used in five-minute spurts.
If you can get past the fact that unless KG plays either all of one quarter per half and less than half of the other quarter.
This strategy just isn't all that logical (12 minute quarters, you assume KG starts, his first rest comes at the seven minute mark, out for four minutes, in at the three minute mark, end of quarter, two minutes to start the second, out at the 10 minute mark, back in at the five minute mark, end of quarter. Where does he get a rhythm?)
The idea isn't all that bad. By reducing his minutes per game again, he theoretically will be better rested for games when he is truly needed. But with all the interruptions, along with timeouts and commercial breaks, Garnett needs to find a way to stay loose.
Too often is he seen on the bench focused intently on the game. That's good and dandy if your body can adjust like that but as he gets older, KG will tighten up more easily. He needs to make sure the training staff is attentive and possibly think about stretching whenever he is not on the court.
Not Always Be so Damn Intense
KG needs to take a page out of Shaq's book. Not every game is Game Seven; you can relax sometimes.
If KG is playing against the Warriors, Raptors or Kings unless he has a personal vendetta against some of those guys, there is no reason other than to get the lead and send a message early does KG need to be in "Anything is Possible" mode.
The reason Celtics fans love KG's intensity is because he plays the game so hard and wants others to play the game as hard as him. As you age, you need to learn to pick your spots.
Jordan was always focused on winning, but knew what times he needed to really step it up and what times he could back off, especially in the latter part of his career.
KG would be wise to do the same.
Lower His Usage
KG has the highest shooting percentage of anyone still on the Celtics. Not surprising, since he has a great touch and plays near the basket.
He has the second highest usage percentage of anyone on the court. The ball lands in his hands because he uses it efficiently; that isn't the problem.
The top five players in the league last year in usage percentage are Kobe, Derrick Rose, Carmelo, Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook. Two of them are primarily point guards and the other three are top play makers and scorers. In terms of usage, KG is way below all of them.
KG is still higher than every single player on the Celtics besides Paul Pierce and oddly enough, Avery Bradley. More than the point guard and more than one of the most effective shooters of all time in Ray Allen.
This doesn't mean that KG should not receive his fair share of calls, but he might want to consider getting the ball out of his own hands to preserve energy.
Use the Rest This Offseason Affords Him Wisely
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KG and the Celtics were bounced from the playoffs much earlier than anticipated. The past four seasons the Celtics have been the last team playing twice, KG was there for both those deep playoff runs.
While he's "only" 34, he has 1,300 games on his legs and hasn't had much time to rest them.
Only three times has he played less than 70 games in the regular season: once during a strike, once when he injured his knee and the year after he injured his knee, when he then went on to play 23 playoff games.
KG is in excellent shape and no doubt will start the season in shape but with the lockout in place, he would be wise to space out his workouts to give himself some time to get healthy.