Why has KG been able to age so gracefully, and yet remain productive when so many other players are swallowed by age seemingly, overnight? Because Garnett progressively became a better all around shooter.
When KG jumped from high school to the NBA in 1995, unlike now, no one was doing it (it had been 20 years) and even less players had been successful in attempting it.
Garnett was an athletic freak with a ton of leaping ability and agility. Here’s a quick refresher:
But as age sapped some athleticism, KG stayed one step ahead by developing a midrange jumper incrementally every year, that he hits as consistently as any big man in the NBA.
Along those same lines, potentially the most underrated aspect of KG’s game is his free throw shooting and the consistent improvement every year.
His free throw percentage this year was .857%. 17 years ago it was .705%. Chris Dudley would probably kill someone to shoot 70%+ from the line (as would a lot of other big men), but for Garnett it was a low point.
If you’ve been watching him since his rookie season of 1995-96 it’s completely obvious how KG continually honed his game year after year, and now he is reaping the benefits in his 17th year (Yes, it’s been that long!).
KG turned 36 three days ago.
At the end of the regular season and now into the playoffs, he has elevated his game to a level a lot of people didn’t think he could play at anymore.
His 2011-12 season was his most productive since 08-09, quietly averaging 15.8 ppg (2nd on team) and 8.3 rpg which lead the team.
But his playoff numbers are even more impressive, at a time when his “old” body should be slowing down, scoring 19.3 ppg and collecting 10.5 rpg, and leading a Celtics playoff run that has the C’s just one “W” away from the Eastern Conference Finals.
Kevin Garnett is one of the best players in NBA history. And it’s no accident he was productive until the end.