Kevin Garnett's "last shot" failures are analyzed.
Over the course of the past week, Kevin Garnett has taken four "game-winning" shots in the final seconds.
He's only hit one.
Garnett's late-game miss left the Timberwolves one point short the other night against the Clippers. The game before that, his last-second miss against the Rockets sent the team into an overtime they would eventually win. And the game before that against Philly featured another KG miss, which propelled the Wolves into and overtime that would end with The Ticket's lone buzzer-beater make.
Kevin Garnett has not been known for his late game heroics, and his recent 25% stint is a fair assessment of how he's performed in the final seconds his entire career. The fact that Garnett doesn't have a knack for knocking down big-time shots has left him with the label of being a "choker", a "second-banana", or a "Scottie Pippen" instead of a "Jordan". It's part of the reason why people are so quick to hail the Kobe's of this world while largely ignoring Garnett. Being able to put up points midway through the second quarter is nice. Nailing that buzzer-beater is unforgettable.
If I had to make a list of NBA players to take a shot with my life on the line, it would include Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Robert Horry, Reggie Miller, and Sam Cassell to name a few. Kevin Garnett wouldn't be anywhere close to the top. But does that really make Garnett a choker? Many would say, "yes". But I think those who are quick to say that The Big Ticket plays the final seconds with both hands wrapped around his neck, aren't really looking at all the facts.
If you notice all the players that I've listed above, most are guards. Not a single one of them is a seven foot power forward. For the most part, those people were either small and quick, able to shoot from just about anywhere on the floor, or both. Kevin Garnett is none of that. For the most part, The Ticket's game is based off of jerky moves used to lure his defender into making a move. Once they bite, he then counters with another move which gives him a nice look at the basket. When Kevin Garnett makes a shot, it's usually after holding the ball for a few seconds until the right time and position to make a move. KG also takes ninety-plus percent of his shots from either the baseline or the top of the key.
So with those facts in mind, is it any wonder that Garnett struggles when he's thrown the ball and expected to do something with it in three seconds? KG is ultra-clutch during the final minutes when he has time to work. It's often his late-game points which allow the Wolves to stay in those tight games until the final seconds. But when it comes time for that last shot, the Timberwolves are often out of luck.
When Corey Maggette hit that shot with seconds left in the fourth to put the Clips up one, I had a sinking feeling that we were done for. It's the same feeling I get every time the Timberwolves are forced to take a final shot with the game on the line. When that ball goes to Garnett, it's proven that you're going to be disappointed 70% of the time. And for the reasons I've mentioned above, it's not necessarily his fault. High-pressure low-clock situations aren't where he thrives. KG is not the one to blame for his reputation of missing game-winning shots. In large part, those misses rest on the shoulders of his coach who decided to put the ball in his hands in the first place.
With the Wolves current roster a, it may be tempting to throw the ball to the player with the biggest name and fattest contract. But experience has proven that Garnett is not this team's best option. That means that somebody, whether it be Mike James, Ricky Davis, or Randy Foye, is going to assume the responsibility of the Timberwolves' game-winner. KG's does so much for this team every night and placing him in a position where just isn't made to excel and will take loads of criticism as a result isn't fair. It's up to his coaches and his teammates to find a better late game solution, or the only ones choking will be constantly disappointed fans.