The Decline of Kevin Garnett?

In the first seven seasons of Kevin Garnett’s career he produced 108.7 wins and posted a Wins Produced per 48 minutes [WP48] of 0.262. An average NBA player only offers a WP48 of 0.100, so Garnett was clearly well above average. In the past four years, though, Garnett has gone beyond “well above average.” From 2002-03 to 2005-06, Garnett produced 118.5 wins and had a WP48 of 0.450. In each of these years he led the league in wins production. Unfortunately, the team around him offered very little. In fact, as noted in “The Tragedy of Kevin Garnett,” his teammates last year were the least productive teammates in the league.

Last year we saw a small decline in Garnett’s productivity. After three seasons where his WP48 ranged from 0.453 to 0.462, last year his WP48 “slipped” to 0.430. Again, he was the most productive player in the game. But he was not quite as good as he had been.

In 2006-07 we see a further decline in Garnett’s production. Through 28 games his WP48 stands at 0.380. Yes, he is still among the very best in the game. But he’s not quite as far above the competition as he was in years past (as noted a few days ago, Jason Kidd has a WP48 of 0.370 this season).

As a team the Timberwolves have not improved very much over last year. After Garnett the team is only receiving above average production from Marko Jaric and rookie Craig Smith. Mike James, an above average player last year, has thus far been a disappointment. And Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, and Trenton Hassell continue to offer very little. In sum, as we saw last year, this team is still Garnett and not much else.

Consequently, despite having the most productive player in the game, the Timberwolves appear destined to miss the playoffs once again.

For those wishing to see the entire analysis of the Timberwolves in 2006-07, please click HERE. As this table indicates, rookie Randy Foye has fit in quite nicely in the general theme in Minnesota. Yes, he is not offering much either.

Does all this mean that the Timberwolves should trade KG? Such a trade would almost certainly make another team very happy. But it’s hard to see anyone giving the Timberwolves equal value for Garnett. After all, he’s probably still the best player in the game.

Perhaps this is a better suggestion. Maybe the Timberwolves could trade general manager Kevin McHale. McHale is quite tall, and surely some team needs another big man in their front office.

– DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

Wins Produced and Win Score are Discussed in the Following Posts

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

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