Monday, November 11, 2013
Garnett seeking to rediscover his game
By Mike Mazzeo
NEW YORK -- The first six games of the 2013-14 season have been a struggle for Brooklyn Nets power forward Kevin Garnett.
Garnett, a 15-time All-Star, is averaging just 6.0 points on 32.1 percent shooting in 23.2 minutes. He has made just three field goals on eight attempts inside the restricted area and is shooting 35.3 percent on mid-range shots (12-for-34).
“I’ve got to quit thinking so much and be more aggressive,” Garnett said. “I’m trying to make things easier for Brook [Lopez] and cause opportunities for other people out there. I’ve got to be a little more aggressive and look for my offense a little bit.”
On the defensive end, the Nets are 11 points per 100 possessions better when Garnett is off the floor (107.6 defensive rating on court, 96.6 on bench).
Obviously, it’s important to understand that this is a very small sample size and Garnett just started playing meaningful games for a new team. At the same time, he’s 37 years old now.
“I still think he’s trying to make the adjustment,” longtime teammate Paul Pierce said. “New team, new teammates, new offense. Kevin’s always been a guy who needed to feel comfortable, who needed to make the adjustment, and get that familiarity. I think he’s getting there with the offense and where his shots are going to come from, the minutes played, it’s an adjustment.
“Even over the past 4-5 years, it’s been an adjustment every year with the Celtics, because as he’s gotten older, his minutes have gone down, and he’s been asked to do less. He’s gonna find his rhythm eventually and really find his groove, I’m pretty sure.”
Nets coach Jason Kidd isn’t concerned.
“He’s changed the culture of the team,” Kidd said. “I’m not gonna have him come shoot early or late. He’s been doing this for 20 years. My job is to put him in his comfort zone. He’s getting great looks, they just aren’t going down.”
An Eastern Conference scout agreed with Kidd.
“He’s the fifth option on offense out of the starting five. He’s not having plays run for him. Just the occasional pick-and-roll, but that’s just setting up Deron Williams or getting help defense to get an open 3-pointer for Paul or Joe Johnson,” the scout said. “He’s never in his life been the fifth option any team. He’s used to being the focal point.
“Defensively, I think it’s just all new people coming together. When Boston’s D came together so quickly, that was incredibly unusual. I think they’ll figure it out eventually. He is a master at defense. There are few in the history of the game that have the understanding of angles, positioning and spacing as he does. He also does a great job of teaching. Brook has been a much better defender since Kevin arrived.
“I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about his slow start. Come April, May, June, if it’s still like this then, then it’ll be time for concern. I think he’s also adjusting to taking wide-open shots. He’s used to having a guy on him and a guy coming at him. Sometimes when you’re so wide-open, you overthink it.”
Kidd played Garnett in both games of the team’s first back-to-back set Friday and Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see how Kidd and the Nets decided to manage the future Hall of Famer going forward.