Kevin Garnett has played a whole lot of basketball in his day, and he has the numbers to prove it.
He ranks 16th all-time in total rebounds with 12,819, fifth among players who began their careers after 1980.
He’s also among the top 20 in total points, total blocked shots, and minutes played.
Indeed his nearly 44,000 NBA minutes, not even counting playoffs, places him 13th all-time.
This impressive resume indicates longevity (16 seasons) and endurance.
During his first 12 years in the league, all spent with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Garnett never missed more than six games in any one season.
Discounting his rookie season, he never average less than 38 minutes per game in his T’wolves’ tenure.
But in Boston he has been hampered by injuries, both nagging and major.
In the championship season, he was troubled by an abdominal strain.
On Feb. 19, 2009, he suffered a knee injury effectively ending his season and requiring a surgical procedure in May.
Then last December came another scare with that bad right knee.
In all, KG has missed 65 games in his four Celtic years.
Did old friend Kevin McHale, the Minnesota personnel man at the time, send us some damaged goods?
Not according to Garnett’s numbers up to and including his final season in Minneapolis, when he closed out a run of nine consecutive seasons of 20-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, and nearly 40 minutes a game.
With the Celtics, he’s down to about 30 minutes, 15 points and eight rebounds per game, attributable as much to surrounding talent as to any decrease in his skill level.
Last season, with KG’s surgery almost 18 months in the past, his minutes seemed to be increasing, but then the injury bug reappeared.
Though the apparent knee problem turned out to be a muscle strain, it still cost him 11 games.
And it can’t help but plant a seed of doubt in a fan’s mind about just how much more we can expect from such an intense player.
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But in a more up-tempo style of play, as Abacus suggested in a piece of writing last week, KG’s primary role should be that of defensive rebounder and outlet man—let those young legs fill lanes for Mr. Rondo.
With these tweaks and some reduction in minutes (about 25 a game), Kevin Garnett can provide quality play for three or four more years.
Who knows, with some good fortune he might match Moses Malone’s 21 NBA seasons!