One of the first NBA players selected straight out of high school, Kevin Garnett was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. Garnett is not only unique for setting a new standard for high school basketball players, but for having an immediate impact in the NBA without college or international experience. He has been a great athlete, an all-around offensive player, and an elite defensive player throughout his career and since joining the Boston Celtics, an NBA Champion.
Kevin Garnett didn’t take long to emerge as a special player. As a 19-year old NBA rookie, he became a fulltime starter for the Wolves after only half a season. He finished his first season with averages of 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists, including 16 points, nine rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in the second half of the year. By his second season, KG was already an All-Star. This would be the first of 13 consecutive All-Star appearances.
By the lockout-shortened 1999 season, Kevin Garnett had established himself as one of the best players in the NBA. In 1999, Garnett had his first 20-10 season and made his first All-NBA team. From 1999 to 2007, he posted nine straight seasons of at least 20 points and ten rebounds per game.
In the middle of that streak, Kevin Garnett took home the league’s highest honor. With 24 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks per game, KG was named the 2004 NBA MVP. It was in the 2004 season that he had the most success with the Wolves. After seven straight seasons of one-and-done playoff appearances, Garnett carried the Wolves to the western conference finals. By the following season, much of his supporting cast had dissolved and the Wolves have failed to make the playoffs since.
Kevin Garnett led the NBA in rebounding in each of his last four seasons in Minnesota. However, toward the end of Garnett’s time there, the Wolves never had the personnel to make any real postseason run. By the 2007 offseason, the Wolves accepted their rebuilding state and traded their all-time leader in scoring, rebounding assists, steals, and blocks to the Boston Celtics.
Garnett became a part of an instant contender. With Garnett joining Celtics’ leader Paul Pierce and recently acquired All-Star Ray Allen, Boston became one of the favorites to emerge from the east. Garnett, Pierce, and Allen each accepted dips in minutes, shots, and statistics for the chance to play for an elite team. They combined to lead the Celtics to a 67-win season and the top overall seed in the playoffs.
Garnett was named the 2008 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, leading the NBA’s best defense. In the playoffs, he averaged 20 and 10 once again in a brilliant postseason that culminated with the 2008 NBA Championship. The Celtics topped the Lakers in the Finals to win their 18th NBA title and the first for Kevin Garnett.
After an injury-plagued 2008-2009 season, Garnett and the Celtics are back in the 2010 NBA Finals challenging for a second championship in three years. Garnett’s post play and defensive intensity have given the Celtics the lift they needed to return to their elite level of play and reach the championship series.
Kevin Garnett is a 13-time NBA All-Star, ten-time All-Defensive player, winner of an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Award, and an NBA Champion. His intensity on the floor, defensive prowess, and complete offensive game have made him one of the NBA’s best players of the last decade.