Nets Look To Keep KG Fresh


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — New Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd told the New York Daily News last month that he might not play Kevin Garnett in both ends of back-to-back sets this season.

“We’ve talked about it that there’s going to be (minutes restrictions). When you look at KG, probably no back-to-backs for him,” Kidd said Friday following press conference to announce the renovation of Nassau Coliseum. “Those are just topics we’re talking about, throwing around to keep these guy’s minutes down because we are deep. …you want to be fresh going into the playoffs.”

Most minutes played, NBA history
Player Seasons GP MIN MPG
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 20 1,560 57,446 36.8
Karl Malone 19 1,476 54,852 37.2
Jason Kidd 19 1,391 50,110 36.0
Elvin Hayes 16 1,303 50,000 38.4
Wilt Chamberlain 14 1,045 47,859 45.8
Kevin Garnett 18 1,323 47,801 36.1
John Stockton 19 1,504 47,764 31.8
Reggie Miller 18 1,389 47,619 34.3
Gary Payton 17 1,335 47,117 35.3
John Havlicek 16 1,270 46,471 36.6

KG is 37 years old, will be playing his 19th season, and ranks sixth all-time in minutes played. That makes this a logical plan, and it’s also easy to understand why Kidd, in particular, is concerned about the minutes of his oldest vet.

Just last season, Kidd — who ranks third all-time in minutes — was playing his 19th season, appeared in 88 of the Knicks’ 94 games. He clearly ran out of gas in the playoffs, missing the final 18 shots of his career. His 3-point shooting helped the Knicks win 18 of their first 23 games and his leadership was critical throughout, but his team needed him to make a shot or two in the conference semifinals and he came up empty.

The Nets would rather win 50 games and have Garnett fresh for the playoffs than win 57 and have him running on fumes when they face the Heat, Pacers or Bulls in a series. The Nets’ best chance at a championship is probably this season, so extra precautions should certainly be taken.

That’s why the addition of Andrei Kirilenko — who gives the Nets a quality starter when Garnett gets a night off — was so important. Though Garnett will be the most critical component to the Nets’ defense, this team is much deeper than the Celtics of the last couple of seasons, who suffered a huge defensive drop-off whenever KG rested.

Garnett’s mobility and athleticism has declined over the last few years. But his numbers from last season make it clear that he had no problem handling back-to-backs.

Over the last two seasons, KG played both ends of 35 back-to-backs (18 in ’11-12 and 17 last season). And in those 70 games, he shot better and got to the line more often in the second night. And he was only a slightly better rebounder on the first night.

Garnett in back-to-backs, last two seasons

First game 30.5 218 462 47.2% 14.6 50.8% 0.206 4.2% 26.1% 15.4%
Second game 29.5 231 440 52.5% 16.1 57.1% 0.275 4.9% 24.0% 15.2%

TS% = PTS / (2 * (FGA + (0.44*FTA)))
REB% = Percentage of available rebounds obtained

KG doesn’t seem to have a problem with playing two straight nights. But this is about the long term and how he plays in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, not how he plays in Toronto on Jan. 11.

In playing those 17 back-to-backs last season, Garnett suffered a drop-off after the All-Star break. But he played pretty well in last season’s playoffs. In fact, he averaged almost 14 rebounds per game in the Celtics’ first-round series against the Knicks, grabbing more than a third of the available defensive rebounds when he was on the floor.

Garnett, 2012-13

Pre All-Star 52 30.3 327 650 50.3% 15.1 54.4% .258 4.5% 25.0% 15.1%
Post All-Star 16 28.1 95 200 47.5% 13.6 50.6% .165 5.2% 28.9% 17.6%
Playoffs 6 35.3 30 60 50.0% 12.7 56.3% .283 5.5% 36.5% 22.6%

Garnett’s usage rate was down in that series, and although he’s still a great defender, there were times when the Knicks made him look his age …


KG is absolutely going to help the Nets defensively. You will find more examples of him playing great pick-and-roll defense than you will of him getting beat. And it should be noted that all the above plays took place toward the end of the first half in which he played the most minutes all season. Garnett averaged just over 14 first-half minutes in his 74 (total) games last season, but played 21:29 in the first half of Game 5.

In addition to giving Garnett nights off, Kidd will also have to manage his minutes in-game. Though his free throw rate and rebounding improved, KG’s shooting declined after he played 20 minutes last season.

Garnett, 2012-13

Min. played in game MIN FGM FGA FG% PTS/48 TS% FTA Rate OREB% DREB% REB%
0-20 1,411 310 600 51.7% 24.4 54.8% .207 4.9% 24.5% 15.1%
21+ 611 112 250 44.8% 22.5 50.4% .308 4.0% 28.7% 16.9%

It will be a interesting balancing act for Kidd.

Though the regular season isn’t the priority, seeding is often critical. Brooklyn got beat in a Game 7 at home in May, but home teams have still won about 80 percent of all Game 7s. With how good each of the best teams in the Eastern Conference could be, we could certainly see more Game 7s next Spring. And a few games in the standings might be the difference between finishing first and finishing fifth.

More than anything, the Nets need to get better defensively and Garnett is the best defensive player of the last decade. But as we saw in Boston the last few seasons, he needs to be on the floor to make an impact. While the Celtics’ defense suffered when he stepped off the floor, it didn’t if he was on the floor and had logged big minutes. In fact, their DefRtg (points allowed per 100 possessions) was better when KG was on the floor and had played at least 20 minutes (95.7) than when he had yet to play 20 (96.4).


  1. Casual BBall Fan says:

    Even though I’m a Knicks fan, I wouldn’t mind seeing KG get another ring before he hangs up his sneaks, ’cause (and this probably goes without saying, but) Brooklyn’s window is probably a small one with their current roster. KG should finish his hall of fame career third on the minutes list and possible in the top 10 in career points; he’s already top 10 in career rebounds. Also, I had no idea Wilt was that high up the minutes played list with so few seasons.

  2. ShawnDee says:

    just looking at the roster Kidd better know what he’s doing cause that’s a lot of talent on that team, D. Will KG Paul P. Jet Andrei Joe Lopez and Blatche. The only team I really see matching them is Indy or NYK, cause Mia don’t have any size and LeBron will only take them so far especially if Wade won’t let himself get healthy and then to hope Oden can finish out a season this time and the Bulls they didn’t get Rose any help and they let Nate go so I don’t see them (Bulls) going to deep in the playoffs this year relying only on D Rose Hinrich Deng and Noah, Not going to happen…

  3. tyshawn says:

    That is crazy they need to play kg cause he is a good player

  4. TTKIN says:

    David Stern is still commissioner…if kidd says he wont use KG in back-to-backs, they wont get a single back-to-back this year. Meanwhile, he’ll probably make sure the Spurs only play in back-to-backs with a few 3 straight games mixed in there as well. Oh and as usual, Miami will most likely get 2 days rest in between every game.

  5. Sam says:

    KG is always in Good Shape and he is Dynamic in court regardless his Age.

  6. Kamote says:

    KG’s value is more than his minutes. He is a locker room leader that transformed Boston into one of the grittiest teams seen since the 90’s. I hope he could bring the same intensity in Brooklyn. As manpower goes, the Nets have a very good 5 even if you don’t have the C’s players on the floor (DWill, JJ, AK, Blatche, Lopez), so limiting their minutes won’t be an issue. I just hope the toughness, commitment to D, and grit of KG rubs off especially to Blatche and Lopez.

  7. Rob Poe says:

    I think this could be good for KG, BUT it could also turn out badly just as he says in this interview I hope he is wrong and the fit will work but not sure, have to wait and see.

  8. KG-FTW says:

    I hope KG and the Nets beat the Heats in the conference finals, payback against Ray Allen lol

    • kek says:

      payback for what? if ray allen stayed, he would have been traded anyway. And lets face it, that celtic team werent close to contenders last year, even if rondo were healthy.

  9. Cavalier says:

    If I were Jason Kidd, I would put Mirza Teletovic as sixth man, and limit KG’s minutes to about 25 per game. I think Mirza would be a great replacement next year for KG. Mirza has a great shooting ability from anywhere on the court, even from 10 meters away from the basket, and he is clutch as hell. If he improves his defense, he could be an All-Star in a few seasons.

  10. dave says:

    he needs to find ways to avoid contact and still be effective.

  11. Tilley says:

    Yea the difference between KG and Dincan and Malone is that KG is a swing man he started at the 3 moved to the 4 and now 5. Hell I even remember with the Twolves he was playing the point cause Steph was in foul trouble. He can even shoot the 3

  12. J says:

    I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate advanced stats like these. normal stats are terrific but advanced, 😡

  13. Rav says:

    Slight issue with using KG’s splits before and after his 20 minute mark in the game to arrive at the conclusion that more minutes = worse play from KG. Namely, a good chunk of his minutes past his 20th comprise “clutch” time, where statistical performance (especially FG%) tends to drop.

    Also, you’ll note that his DRB% increases at 20+, which may suggest that it’s not that his play is worsening, but that he shifts effort from the offensive end toward the defensive end later in the game.

  14. bLanK says:

    no back to back games?! aw..
    use him like doc rivers used him, limit the minutes!

  15. okc2014 says:

    I agree, instead of limits on back-to back games, why not limits on minutes per game? Yes, he should keep his body in motion. After all, senior citizens need to keep it moving. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it! Go Nets!

  16. Decena says:

    Trust me, D Will and KG will run a lot of pick and roll/pop in the team’s offense.

  17. Henrik Jensen says:

    I hope KG will win one or two more championships in his career, hopefully he will get a shot or two at Brooklyn !

  18. ko0kiE says:

    KG and TD.. best PFs of all time. such complete players with great careers. you could argue about all day which one is better, some would say duncan because of the championships, but imagine garnett on those san antonio teams and duncan in minnesota…. 😉

    • Schemer21 says:

      KG has been one of my favourite players for years and TD had been amazing throughout his career but really, and i wasn’t a huge fan of him, Karl Malone is the greatest PF of all time.

  19. I hope KG will win a championship in brooklyn

  20. sedajames says:

    Nice article but the numbers post all-star break are skewed since they don’t factor in the season ending injuries to Rajon Rondo and Jarred Sullinger, and even Leandro Barbosa. Without Rondo to get him easy looks and the ball in his favorite spots, KG was forced to take more difficult shots, and the team often struggled to get him the ball at all. He would often only be playing one half of the court do to the ineptness of the Celtics offense without a true point guard or a scoring backcourt to stretch the floor.

    I thought Doc Rivers and KG did a tremendous job of monitoring KG’s usage and it showed in the NYC series where KG was the most dominant Celtic and rebounder on the floor. It was Pierce who was unfortunately overused and ran out of gas. Doc ran him into the ground by having him take up the playmaking duties without Rondo.

    KG is still a beast and effective on both ends of the floor and I’m thrilled to see him have a chance to get another ring.

  21. I understand where Coach Kidd is coming from, but no back-to-back games sounds unreasonable. Limiting his minutes in games is more plausible. Even though Garnett is 37, he is a “young” 37, meaning keeping his body lean since his rookie days has not put alot of pressure on his knees and back. His conditioning is also superb.

    Looking at Garnett’s stats ovewr the last 5 seasons in Boston he has always been close to 30 minutes/game averaging 15 points. He should be around the same this season. One of the best power forwards off all time who still has alot left in his tank.

  22. I understand where Coach Kidd is coming from, but no back-to-back games sounds unreasonable. Limiting his minutes in games is more plausible. Even though Garnett is 37, he is a “young” 37, meaning keeping his body lean since his rookie days has not put alot of pressure on his knees and back. His conditioning is also superb.

    Looking at Garnett’s stats ovewr the last 5 seasons in Boston he has always been close to the 30 minutes/game averaging 15 points. He should be around the same this season. One of the best power forwards off all time who still has alot left in his tank

    • LakersWillWin says:

      Depending on the competition of the back to back is the question.

      If they are playing Chicago one night, and the 76ers the next, yeah rest him on the 2nd night. If there are 2 crucial games his presence may be necessary.