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Saturday August 16, 2008 8:13 pm

Dropping Dimes Mock Draft: Round 1, Pick 5 - Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
We have made some changes to the way we run our mock draft this year. First of all, we decided to put the focus on head-to-head league play. Secondly, although we continue to take turns making picks behind the scenes, we do not necessarily post articles on players that we picked. This way, we hope to at least have five new picks for review every week leading up to the start of the season.

Having said that, I paid extra attention to this slot in the order. This is where I will be drafting in my main league come October. Someone else made the pick, but this is someone I will have to seriously consider when I am on the clock.

Here are KG’s best and worst statistical averages over the last three seasons:

Best: 76 GP, 53.9 FG%, 83.5 FT%, 22.4 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 4.1 apg, 0.2 3pg, 1.4 spg, 1.7 bpg, 1.9 topg

Worst: 71 GP, 47.6 FG%, 80.1 FT%, 18.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 0.0 3pg, 1.2 spg, 1.3 bpg, 2.7 topg

The 2007-08 season was a career high for KG; on the best team he has ever played on, he won his first title in Celtic green. Fantasy-wise he posted three-year lows in points, rebounds, assists, threes, blocks and free throw percentage. Certainly these trends are not what a fantasy owner wants to ride. The 71 games played were also his lowest in his career since the lockout season, and his lowest ever over a full season. Despite all this, in a roto league, drafting KG here makes a ton of sense. The combination of solid percentages, a long and proven record of excellence and the assists from a power forward position make him a roto pick just outside the top four.

But this is head-to-head play. Forget about the name recognition for a second. Is spending a top five pick on a player who neither scores 20 points nor grabs ten boards a game a sound play? Maybe not, but it is easy to get too hung up on old stats. KG was in a new situation last year and he was the most injured he has ever been over his career. Dissect his monthly splits from last season and you can see that his production went way down in February when he was the most hurt.

One other key stat is he averaged about 6-7 minutes less on the court on the Celtics; as the main man on the Wolves he would easily top 38-39 minutes a game. The Atlantic Division has improved significantly this off-season. The Toronto Raptors added Jermaine O’Neal. The Philadelphia 76ers signed Elton Brand. The New York Knicks hired Mike D’Antoni. Only the New Jersey Nets look like they are taking backward steps. Conceivably this division could house three of the top four teams in the conference next year, but NBA rules dictate that the three division winners and the next best team get the top four seeds in the playoffs. Hopefully the better competition means the Celtics will have to run a little harder and that would mean more minutes for KG.

Dwyane Wade looks excellent in Beijing, and if people drafted now, he would be soaring up the charts. Like KG, Gilbert Arenas is not playing in the Olympics, and getting ready for the season. Dirk Nowitzki loses to KG in the hustle stats and does not hoist up quite as many three-pointers as he used to, and Shawn Marion needs some questions answered about his future. The Matrix has fallen quite a bit from top fantasy dog in the land. Glancing at these players, KG is certainly the safest and most no-nonsense pick here. It comes down to whether you think he will improve a little on last year’s stats, or whether this is the start of a statistical descent in the later stages of his career.

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