Tag: Kevin Garnett

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Garnett

Ricky Rubio loves Kevin Garnett as a teammate


Minnesota brought Kevin Garnett back — and he waived his no-trade clause to come back — in part to mentor the young stars of the Timberwolves such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

KG has long been seen as a guy you love to have on your team but hate playing against — something Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio confirmed, something Rubio confirmed speaking in the Philippines.

Rubio said he used to be intimidated by Garnett, as reported by rappler.com (hat tip NESN).

“When I was growing up, I watched a lot of KG’s games and I was a little afraid, so when he came to the team I was concerned but at the same time I was super excited, because I had a chance to play with him in 2012 locally,” Rubio said on Friday, August 21.

“I was working out in LA and we played some friendly games and he was over there and I had a chance to meet him,” recalls the 6-foot-4 point guard, who went on to say that the KG NBA fans see on their TV screens or on the court isn’t precisely the person he really is.

“He’s not that guy that it seems on the basketball court. He’s really a good guy, nice guy, and helps your teammates. He kills for you,” said Rubio, who’s about to play his fifth year in the NBA.

Garnett has lost a step on the court, but the mental part of the game is still there — and he’s willing to teach it if a player is ready to listen and take it seriously. Not every player takes their opportunities to learn from the greats seriously — *cough* Andrew Bynum *cough* — but Towns has said he already has started working with Garnett back around Summer League.

The goal with rebuilding — at least everywhere outside of Philadelphia — is to have a down season or two, draft good young players (maybe trade for another), then build back up with them at the core. It helps that process along to have a veteran the players will listen to on the way back up.

Garnett is perfect for that role — when he came to the Timberwolves last year he was still the first guy in the gym working out. Young players need to see that, need to see what it takes to be great. They need to see that drive. It’s going to make Minnesota better in the long run.

Alvin Gentry understands great opportunity, challenge coaching Anthony Davis

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four

At any one time in the NBA, there are at best a handful of guys who will go down as legendary, all-time great NBA players. The men mentioned in the same breath as the best ever to lace them up. Right now there is LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan…

And Anthony Davis.

Davis is just 22, and we are a decade from knowing if he should ultimately be compared to the Duncans and LeBrons of the game — but he is on that trajectory. After just three NBA seasons, he is undoubtedly a top five NBA player and arguably in the top two. His PER of 30.8 last season was 11th best all time in the NBA; the only people ahead of him are named LeBron, Chamberlain, and Jordan. He will wear the crown of best player on the planet in a few years. He has an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal, two All-Star games and one All-NBA Team to his credit, and he’s still just tapping into how great he can be.

It falls in part to new Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry to help him reach his potential.

No pressure.

Gentry talked with NBA.com’s Ian Thompson about that burden, what he has spoken with Davis about, and what he has to do as a coach to guide Davis to that potential.

“It is up to us to make him as good as he can possibly be, and not settle for him to be less than great in this area or that area. I told him that I have no doubt that he is going to be an MVP in this league. And I said to him, ‘We are going to be really, really good if you also win Defensive Player of the Year….’

“It’s like I said to him: As great as he is right now, I see his game expanding in so many areas,” says Gentry of Davis. “And the thing I like about it is he is still willing to learn. I sent Darren Erman, who is my associate head coach and defensive coordinator, to work with him, and he showed him a couple of little things from last year that he had to improve on. And every day Anthony has been working on them. Every single day. Guys usually don’t work on defensive things when you are having a workout, but he has been great at it.

“He is just a special player, and we can’t set limits on him. We have to try to take him to a level that he didn’t feel he could get to — or that no one thought he could get to. We have got to make the sky the limit for him.”

Gentry picked another great player with a legendary work ethic as a potential role model for Davis — Kevin Garnett.

“I told Anthony this — and I think it’s very important — about Kevin Garnett,” says Gentry. “I never had the opportunity to coach him, but I know guys that coached him, and they say that every day Kevin Garnett came into the gym, he had to know that when he left he was a little bit better than he was yesterday.”

Gentry’s style will help here, too. Gentry wants the game to be fun (something he said Steve Kerr emphasized last year). He wants the Pelicans to play faster, which will help Davis both get some transition buckets and get deep position more often. He has emphasized defense (the Pelicans struggled on that end last season). New Orleans is going to take a step forward this season, the only question is now big (and how far they can go in a loaded West).

But in a lot of ways, Gentry’s job (and GM Dell Demps’ job) is to get everything around Davis right. Davis himself will be amazing, but as we have seen through LeBron’s career the players around him will matter, getting those players to buy into the system will matter. Davis isn’t winning rings — which he will need for his legacy — by himself.

It’s a lot of pressure, but there may be no guy more ready for it than Gentry.

Ricky Rubio thinks Timberwolves can make the playoffs

Minnesota Timberwolves v Sacramento Kings

Last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves won 16 games, in large part due to having the worst defense in the NBA.

This season, they’re a team that will be fun to watch. Ricky Rubio dishing at the point with flair, Andrew Wiggins improving out on the wing and finishing like a beast, Karl-Anthony Towns finding his way in the paint, Zach LaVine dunking on everyone. They will be improved and entertaining.

The playoffs? That is still a ways off.

Unless you ask Rubio, which someone did at an Adidas store in the Philippines (Rubio is on tour promoting the brand). Rubio said he believes they can do it, as reported by rappler.com.

“I always dream big, and I always put the bar level really high, I know the Western Conference is really tough. There’s a lot of good teams who can make the playoffs, but I believe. I believe in me, I believe in my team, and I think we can do it….

“If we stay healthy, there’s no doubt that we’re going to have a chance. We have to be there to do that, and dream big.”

After playing just 22 games last season due to injury, if they can get a full season out of Rubio it makes the Timberwolves that much better. They have a good young core that’s improving. They have Kevin Garnett as a mentor. There is a lot to like, a lot of potential. This is going to be a team you stop and watch on League Pass.

But the playoffs. In the West? That’s more than a big dream, that’s fantasy right now.


Glen Davis says Doc Rivers has changed as a coach, DeAndre Jordan should get more touches

Glen Davis

Big Baby is still available.

Glen Davis is still out there on the free agent market, the Clippers and Bucks have reportedly had conversations with him. Or, he could just go play overseas.

But with no imminent deal, he was very honest when he appeared on the “Gio and Jones” show on CBS Sports Radio in the morning, with Gregg Giannotti and Brian Jones. He talked about Donald Sterling and playing for the Clippers, but maybe the most interesting thing is how Doc Rivers has had to coach Clippers differently than he did the Celtics.

“I think he’s changed as a coach. In Boston, I think when you have players like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, so experienced and understanding of policing. He has to do more coaching with these guys, with Blake (Griffin) and DeAndre (Jordan) and Chris (Paul). Kind of walk them through the process of understanding championship basketball. You got to kind of change your tone and the way you talk to these younger guys. So he’s changed for the betterment of the team so he can get everybody on the same page.”

Is Davis saying anything here we didn’t already know? Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (as well as the rest of the Clippers) are talented but inexperienced. Rivers was hired in part to take them to the next level, and he has to play to their personalities rather than what Boston needed. Coaching is not one size fits all.

Which brings us to when Davis discussed the Jordan/Paul dynamic, and why Jordan was unhappy enough with the Clippers to agree to play for Dallas (before changing his mind).

It was a false reality,” Davis said of the reports of a CP3/Jordan feud. “It was like they had problems, but they didn’t have problems. We can hang out, have a good time off the court, it just some players rub each other the wrong way. I think that’s what it was and they never really talked about it until DeAndre said ‘I’m going to go to Dallas….’

“I thought D’Andre needed more attention, because he’s a guy who dominates on both sides of the ball. He doesn’t have no plays run for him, and he gets every rebound, how about we give him some confidence? Throw him a couple bones down there and see if he can get us a bucket. He can’t shoot free throws, but he’s getting people in the bonus, he’s making things happen out there. So you gotta show him some love because he’s a vital player.”

Davis said the Paul/Jordan dynamic was part of the problem in the Houston series, when it all started to come to a head as the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead and were eliminated.

It’s one of the things the Clippers need to sort out if they are ging to be serious title contenders next season. On paper, they fixed the depth problem, but chemistry remains the question. And it’s one the Clippers can’t answer until the playoffs.

Flip Saunders counting on Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince to change Timberwolves defense

Kevin Garnett

Last season, the Timberwolves were the worst defensive team in the NBA. By far. They allowed 109.6 points per 100 possessions, which was more than six per 100 worse than the league average. If Minnesota is going to take a step forward next season, that is the obvious area for improvement (although their 26th ranked offense could use some help, too). Minnesota has a long ways to go.

More than just talent, coach Flip Saunders is counting on a veteran presence to change the Timberwolves defense around.

He tweeted as much Friday.

That doesn’t hurt. Kevin Garnett can still quarterback a defense, even if his reactions to what he recognizes are now a step slow. Tayshaun Prince still knows how to defend on the perimeter.

I can see Prince helping mentor Andrew Wiggins. I can see KG helping Karl-Anthony Townes understand how to recognize what is coming and protect the rim.

Defense at the NBA level starts with simple effort — not every team, not every player gives it. If the veterans on the Timberwolves help install a real work ethic on that end, it would be a big start.

But just a start. Minnesota has a long way to go.