“There is nobody in the gym that I would put in his place,” Hollins said at Deron Williams’ Celebrity Dodge Barrage event at Basketball City. “He has earned the right to have that opportunity to be the starter from Day One. Somebody has to knock him out, it’s got to be like a heavyweight fight. I don’t really see that happening.”
“If he’s healthy, and producing, he’s going to play,” Hollins said. “How many minutes? I don’t know. But he is not going to play 15 or 16 minutes. I can guarantee you that. If he is playing and starting, he is going to be out there.”
That faint sound you heard from the west was our huge sigh of relief. Despite their diminishing statures, the league is obviously better off the longer legends like Garnett and Kobe Bryant stick around. You don’t need to completely let go of your childhood fandom just yet, twentysomethings. Thank goodness.
But this news carries weight in the Eastern Conference race, too. Part of Brooklyn’s wholesale struggles to begin last season were those of Garnett individually – he was barely playable in November and December. KG turned things around come late December, though, re-establishing himself as a dominant defensive influence and finding the range on his jumper. If Garnett plays like he did in the second half of 2013-2014 this season, he’ll be a very valuable two-way contributor for the Nets.
One wonders, however, if he’ll be capable of doing so given the change in structural philosophy that Hollins is implementing. The lede of Ohmusik’s story contains the pertinent information that Garnett “will start at power forward,” and it’s that positional distinction that matters here.
Can Garnett, the league’s active leader in minutes by over 2,000, ably chase opposing forwards on the perimeter next season? That KG’s sudden success last season directly coincided with the injury to Brook Lopez and his subsequent shift down to center isn’t a positive harbinger. With Lopez healthy and the continued development of Mason Plumlee, it seems unlikely Garnett will notch many minutes as his team’s biggest player next season.
But those are concerns to be considered should they actually arise once the season tips off. For now, we’re just thrilled to know that Garnett will be an active and instrumental presence in the league for at least one more season.
What do you think?
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