FanPost

[Effort] Love and Garnett or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Everyone Named Kevin

We are bad at remembering.

Not We as in Timberwolves fans or We as in sports fans, but We as in human beings. We forget things. Things get foggy and blurry as they fade into time. Oh sure, we remember the important stuff, the stuff that counts, and we are good at remembering general ideas, but when it gets down to specifics, we are just forget. We remember what the puzzle looked like when it was done, but we forget what the pieces looked like when we were putting it together.

Kevin Garnett first put on a Timberwolves jersey on June 28th, 1995. His first regular season game was November 3rd, 1995. He did not play particularly well - 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist. He did hit all 4 of his shots and he did not turn the ball over. The Wolves lost, of course; they were really good at loosing back then.

Kevin Garnett took that jersey off on April 9th, 2007. The Wolves lost that game; after a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2004, they had come full circle and were (again) really good at losing. Garnett went to Boston and immediately won a title. The Wolves spent the next year in limbo until another power forward dropped into their laps.

On June 26th, 2008, Kevin Love put on a Timberwolves jersey.

And here we are.

There's been some talk on these here forums about the relative merits of Kevin Garnett versus Kevin Love. Who is better, who is worse. Most of the debate pushes towards Garnett - he won an MVP and took the Wolves to the playoffs 8 years in a row. Love has neither tasted the playoffs or a hint of NBA hardware. But several posters have pushed for Love. They note his incredible shooting and his incredible rebounding - surely that counts for something, right? Garnett never shot like that, never rebounded like that, right?

They also say something else - they say that they do not remember Garnett. Oh sure, he was great, but how great was he? We don't remember. He debuted almost 17 years ago. I was 8 years old. A 7-foot poster of Garnett was on my wall (with a chart to mark my height), but I have absolutely no recollection of Garnett in a Timberwolves jersey. I was not nearly the fan then as I am now. I cannot say for sure how good he was.

People forget. Numbers, on the other hand, remember. While numbers cannot properly measure Garnett's rim rattling dunks or the spacing that Love affords other players on the court, they come pretty close to reminding us how good these two players really are.

Without further ado, Love and Garnett.

Methodology

I did not want to compare peak versus peak. Garnett's peak was when he was 27 years old. Love is 23 years old. That doesn't seem fair. On the other hand, I did not want to compare rookie year versus rookie year, first year versus first year. Garnett debuted at 19. Love debuted when he was 20. That doesn't seem fair either. What follows, then, is a breakdown of 20 year old Garnett versus 20 year old Love, 21 year old Garnett versus 21 year old Love, etc...

But wait, you say! Garnett started every game in this analysis. Love rode the bench for what basically amounts to a year of basketball. Love has also not finished his 4th year, while Garnett played his 3rd year in the lockout of '98-'99. How are you adjusting your numbers? Well, dear reader, I am adjusting my numbers by multiplying Love's numbers by 1.43, which gets him to exactly Garnett's minutes played in his first four seasons.

For the record, Love would have needed to play 360 games in 4 years (90 per year) to match the minutes that Garnett played for his first four years. In a side note, the Timberwolves have never had good coaching, huh?

Comparison

Note: I have season by season data for Love and Garnett, but because this blog's posting software does not work, I am unable to add it to the document at this time. We will move into the overall comparison, and if I can figure out how to work this blog, I will add more data later.

Shooting


MP

FG

FGA

FG%

3P

3PA

3P%

FT

FTA

FT%

TS%

eFG%

Garnett

11240

2357

4819

0.489

43

132

0.326

904

1214

0.745

0.529

0.494

Love

11240

2000

4362

0.458

269

726

0.371

1689

2048

0.824

0.566

0.489

For his age 20-23 seasons, Garnett was a greater part of the offense than Love was, taking 500 more shots in the same number of minutes. Garnett led the Wolves in shots taken in his 21-23 seasons; until this year, Love never has. Love actually finished fifth in shots taken on the team in his first two seasons; the fact that he is even within remote distance of Garnett is astonishing, and a testament to the fact that love has shot 500 more three pointers and 800 more free throws than Garnett did in his 20-23 seasons. Garnett never was much for three pointers (he peaked at 116 attempted in one season) and was never spectacular at drawing fouls (averaged about 6 FTA/36 minutes at his peak). Garnett loved his midrange game - a quick look at his shot chart from his MVP season makes that clear. Love is definitely better at drawing fouls and making free throws and three pointers. Love's TS% (which takes into account 3 pointers and free throws) is significantly better than Garnett's, though Garnett's advantage on 2-pointers is reflected in his higher eFG%. Overall, two excellent offensive players, something that we will see for sure later.

Overall Production


ORB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

Garnett

801

2048

2849

1187

442

522

770

780

5661

Love

1409

2905

4314

685

225

169

699

851

5957

This is where we start to see some dramatic differences in production. Looking at the adjusted raw statistics illuminates some stark differences between these two players. Note that Love has 300 more points even though Garnett has 500 more shots.

Advanced Stats


ORB%

DRB%

TRB%

AST%

STL%

BLK%

TOV%

USG%

Garnett

8.9

23.3

16.1

18.5

2.0

3.4

12.6

24.5

Love

13.8

29.8

21.6

10.3

1.0

1.1

11.7

23.2

The percentage statistics reflect the overall production statistics, but are adjusted for the teams that these two players played on. Love's rebounding advantage is tremendous. Garnett was a good rebounder, Love is perhaps the best rebounder in the league. While Garnett did eventually raise his defensive rebounding numbers to about where Love is now, his offensive rebounding was never what Love's is - in Garnett's best season on the offensive boards, he collected 9.7% of the rebounds available on the offensive end. Love, of course, has never been worse than 11% of the available boards on the offensive end. Clearly Love is in a different world when comparing rebounding. We also get to see where Garnett is tremendously better than Love - passing, steals, and blocked shots. This is our first glimpse of the defensive impact that Kevin Garnett had (and has) on the basketball court. He's literally twice the theft that Love is and over three times the shot blocker. He's also a much better passer. Love will never be the defensive madman that Garnett was, but his passing numbers could improve. He should hang out more with The Unicorn.

Win Shares/Overall


OWS

DWS

WS

WS/48

Garnett

17.2

16.7

33.9

0.145

Love

30.1

11.3

41.4

0.177

Love is better. His offensive game is so much more polished than Garnett's was, it is not even funny. Garnett is easily a better defensive player, but the overall and per-game numbers say it all: Love is better, end of story, thank you for reading, right? Maybe not.

I've talked about the differences between these two players through their first four years. Love is probably better. But we have the benefit of hindsight, and Captain Hindsight points out (correctly) that Garnett stepped up his game tremendously as he played more and more games. He steadily improved in every category that Love dominated him in through their first four years. He turned that raw athleticism into the most well-rounded production of anybody in the NBA. He led the league in rebounding five straight years. He averaged over 5 assists per game 6 times. He won MVP by putting up 24/14/5/1.5/2.2 while setting career highs in Usage % and career lows in Turnover %. Is Love going to do that? Garnett's athleticism translated from the defensive end to the offensive end easily. Will Love's game do the same, but the other way? While I do see Love improving as a passer, he will never be the defensive force that Garnett was. He's better on defense than many give him credit for (the lost weight probably has a lot to do with his improvement, as does Adelman), but I do not think he will ever be Garnett good.

In short, we might be looking at the peak of Kevin Love right now. It's a great peak, don't get me wrong. It's the kind of peak that perennial playoff teams are built on. But Garnett's peak was higher. That peak took a team to the WCF - where will Love take the Wolves? I have high hopes, but I do wonder where his game can go from here. Between you and me, I'd like to be proven wrong.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Canis Hoopus

You must be a member of Canis Hoopus to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Canis Hoopus. You should read them.

Join Canis Hoopus

You must be a member of Canis Hoopus to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Canis Hoopus. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker