Let's face it. Last year was not one of Kevin Garnett's finest seasons. His field goal percentage, 44%, and his PPG, 6.5, were the lowest of his career. His rebounding numbers, 6.6 RPG, haven't been that low since his rookie season. His 54 games played was the lowest total since the 1998-99 season. He missed 22 games to back spasms.
Wednesday's opener against Boston marks the beginning of Garnett's 20th season. Only three other players, Robert Parrish, Kevin Willis and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, have played 20 or more seasons in the NBA. His other accomplishments are legion.
If this were to be his last, the 38-year-old wants to make it count. Expectations have been tempered significantly since last season, and however this season ends for the Nets, Garnett seems to want to go out on his own terms.
When asked at practice on September 29 what a good season would entail, Garnett said, "to finish the season strong and to be able to look back and say I've enjoyed not only then guys but the opportunity... I set small goals for myself, but more importantly it's team goals, and team goals will always trump my personal goals."
Garnett still has his usual team-first mentality, but it seems like his personal success this season is very important to him. He's prideful and wants to go out on top of his game, or at last close to it.
"I have always enjoyed the game of basketball, probably always will," he said Monday. "You don't have to motivate me, to push me out of bed to do this."
This season could be a bounce-back year for KG. He started training a month earlier this offseason, and he feels he's more prepared going into this season, more comfortable. He has said he has an "edge."
"Being honest, I know what to expect this year," Garnett admitted to the beat writers. "Coming from Beantown, I didn't really know what to expect. First year, having Jason [Kidd] I didn't know where I fit in."
With center Brook Lopez returning from injury this season, Garnett is set to see more minutes at power forward, his natural position and where he's most comfortable. Playing in a position he's more comfortable with, Garnett will look to play with his usual tenacity.
"This year, I' m coming in with a little more edge, with a little more assertiveness, kind of deferring back to obviously when I came into this league and what I created for myself." Garnett has said. "I'm going to be a lot more aggressive, but then letting the coach know that I'm not 18."
Garnett has always been one of the most vocal players on the floor, and especially with Paul Pierce departing for Washington, Garnett's leadership role should increase this season.
On Garnett's leadership, head coach Lionel Hollins told Steve Serby of The New York Post...
It's his maturity, and pride in doing things the right way. He has an unbelievable work ethic, and he brings that every day, which opens him up to be an example. When you go out there and you give it every time you're on the court, you can yell at somebody and tell somebody they're not working hard. If you're sporadic in your work ethic, how can you yell at somebody else? You're not gonna be a leader because they're not gonna repeat you.
Whether he returns to form or not, Garnett pays no mind to the noise. In true Garnett fashion, the 20-year veteran pulled no punches and told the beat writers Monday he could care less what they think. What does matter is his teammates, particularly those who, like Mason Plumlee, think ... and act.
"I’ve been in this league a long time and I think I have something to offer," Garnett told Lenn Robbins last week. "To Mase’s credit, he wanted to learn from day one. He was open to it.
"I respect that. I respect anyone that’s willing to work at their craft, regardless what it is. He’s just started scratching the surface. If I see him relax, he’s going to hear about it."
So expect him to keep talking, keep goading for 82, and hopefully more, games.
- KG talks about the start of his 20th season in the NBA (Audio) - Brooklyn Nets Podcast on SoundCloud - Brooklyn Nets
- One year later, hard to see Nets prevailing in Celtics megatrade - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Garnett approaches 20th season with 'edge' - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York