The Nets are, at times, a horrific defensive team. Their old age is seen most often on the defensive end; teams that are younger and that can shoot the ball run the score up on them. They rank 22nd in the league in fast-break points allowed per game, and of the 100 points per game they allow, 25 percent of them come from beyond the arc, 25th "best" in the league.
However, for some divine reason, Kevin Garnett has made this team a formidable defensive club when he's out there on the court. Yes, they still aren't a great defensive team by any means, but Garnett makes it much more difficult for the opposition to score on the Nets. When Garnett is on the floor, the Nets post a defensive rating of 101. When he is on the bench, the Nets defensive rating drops to 107, a drastic decrease in defensive efficiency.
KG, 37 years old, isn't as great of a defender as he once was, his individual defensive rating of 102 is the fourth worst of his career, but his impact is still felt on the team. Check out how KG's defensive instincts and help defensive lead to a Nets transition opportunity.
Garnett makes it nearly impossible for Turner to drive to the basket by stepping in and showing himself while Alan Anderson recovered from the screen. After that, KG hustles back to apply pressure to Hawes, knowing that Hawes doesn't have the speed to get by him. KG then gets his hand on a forced pass, showing off his great anticipation for the ball.
KG is all over the place on defense, making plays while being a help-side defender, switching men, and containing his own defensive assignment.
With the fast paced Suns pushing the ball up the floor, Plumlee never got an opportunity to pick up his man Marcus Morris. However, KG picks him up after Goran Dragic took the ball baseline and Garnett's man, Frye, was out of the play.
By following the ball and getting closer and closer to his man, Garnett closes out easily and takes away the middle of the floor from Frye, which also makes it difficult to find his teammates.
Garnett is such a tough draw for a player trying to score due to his length, as seen in the prior clip, but also in the David Lee clip below. Garnett has a wingspan of approximately 7'5", which makes it nearly impossible for a player to get his shot over KG's outstretched arm.
Garnett's aforementioned length makes Lee's shot as difficult as possible; he is off-balance, for one, and has to get the ball over Garnett and his lanky figure. The other part of the video that is intriguing is the fact that once again Garnett took the initiative on the defensive end and switched onto Lee. Of course, most players will help on defense and take a man, but Garnett made the switch like it was second nature and anticipated that Paul Pierce would double Stephen Curry off of the screen.
Another testament to his defensive talent despite his older age is KG's impeccable footwork. Footwork on the defensive end has become a lost art, many players don't get into a fine defensive position as often, don't show a high hand on closeouts, or force a player in one direction. Not Garnett, he always pays attention to the tiniest of details.
Garnett forced Frye baseline in an earlier clip, but in this one KG positions himself evenly with Duncan in order to prevent a patent Duncan mid-range jumper. Garnett shows a high hand to stop the jump shot, and then drops down to try and gets his hand on the ball. Garnett then funnels Duncan to the left side of the floor, forcing him to use his weak hand. Garnett then uses his length to make the shot even more difficult for Duncan.
Despite being undersized for a center, Garnett has garnered respect from opposing centers, only 25 percent of Garnett's defensive plays have been considered post ups. To compare, 17 percent of his defensive plays have been isolations, but those haven't been drives or a big man taking it to the rim, rather they have been mainly pull up jumpers. His fine length has made it difficult for other big men to score in isolation situations; opposing big men have shot 16 percent from the floor in those situations with Garnett defending them. Garnett has allowed just .39 points per possession in isolations this season, the third best number in the league this year.
You can't teach some things. And some things never age. KG has proven that over the past month that even though he might not be able to play as many minutes as he once did, he still is a defensive juggernaut.
Garnett's defensive prowess has been integral in the Nets recent revival and has righted his woeful start to his inaugural campaign with the Nets.