With 32 more assists, Garnett will pass Sleepy Floyd for 50th on the NBA's all-time assist leader board (5,144). This is important, because Garnett already ranks in the top 50 in rebounds (12th - 13,566), points (17th - 24,802), steals (18th - 1,702) and blocks (19th - 1,937). As you can see, not only is he top 50 in those categories, he's in the top 20 in all 4.
Since the NBA started tracking steals and blocks in 1972-73, no player has accumulated enough of each of the five categories to rank in the top 50. And even going back into the pre-steal/block era, the only player who may have had a chance is Oscar Robertson who easily cracked the top 50 in points, rebounds and assists, and in his prime was known as an above average defensive player.
While KG is viewed as a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer, I think he may be more than that. It's entirely possible that he is the most well rounded player in NBA history. Again I'm not saying the most dominant, or the winningest, or the greatest. As fantastic as he is, I don't think anyone considers him more dominant than Wilt, a better winner than Russell, or greater than Jordan. But in terms of his all around game? He just may be the best we've ever seen. Some facts:
Scoring - While he's never led the NBA in scoring, he's topped the 20 PPG mark in 9 of his 18 NBA seasons. His overall scoring average per game is 19.2 PPG. He's also incredibly efficient, shooting 50% from the floor and 79% from the free throw line. His offensive repertoire is diverse - fadeaway jumpers from the post, up-and-under shimmy shakes on the block, and his 18 footer, which he has consistently knocked down throughout his career.
Rebounding - Led the NBA in rebounding 4 consecutive seasons (2004-2007), and has averaged double digit boards for his career (10.5 a game). He has never been a prolific offensive rebounder, instead preferring to get back on defense (many coaches would much prefer this to crashing the offensive glass and getting beat back down the floor), but he's one of the greatest defensive rebounders of all time. In fact there is a very good chance that by the time he retires he will have passed Karl Malone for the most defensive rebounds in NBA history (he's 889 behind him now).
Defense - His true strength. The steals and blocks have been discussed, but that's not even what this is about. He took home the 2007-08 Defensive player of the year award, and it can be argued that he deserved to win several more. He's made 9 All-defensive first teams and 3 All-defensive second teams in his 18 year run, and again - he should have made more. Basketball reference also keeps a stat called "Defensive Win Shares" that measures how many wins a player has been worth on the defensive end over their career. KG has been worth as astounding 85.3, the 7th most in history. Every night he guards the best big man the opponent has to offer, and in the vast majority of cases, he wins that battle. There is a case to be made that on the all-time All-Defensive team, he is the starting PF (although you can't go wrong with Duncan either).
Durability - Since his career began in 1995, Garnett has missed more than 13 games exactly once (2008-09, knee injury). He's appeared in 1,291 games, 14th in league history and by the time he finishes up his current contract he will be one of just a handful of NBA players to play 20 seasons, and if he stays healthy - he'll finish in the top 5 in games played.
A few other stats for Garnett: 14-time all-star, 9 time All-NBA team, 2003-04 MVP, 2008 NBA champ.
Perhaps the best word to describe KG is unique. The way the talks on the court, the way he interacts with the fans and media, the way he has been the heart and soul of his teams since the Mid-90's. His passion for the game has never waned, and despite the fact that he's logged nearly 52,000 minutes on his odometer - his game remains nearly as good as it was in his prime. So just a message to all basketball fans: Enjoy the next two and a half seasons, because once Garnett leaves, it's possible we'll never see another player quite like him.
Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13 Michael Dyer 1/14/2013 03:37:00 PM Tweet Edit