We saved the best for last. This is the last in a series of profiles for all 15 players on the Celtics roster. The season opener is tomorrow night. Let the games begin.
Kevin Garnett pounds his chest just before the opening tip-off against the Houston Rockets in a preseason basketball game in Manchester, N.H. (AP)
Born: May 19, 1976
Height: 6 feet 11 inches. Weight: 253
College: None (Farragut Academy HS (Ill.))
Years pro: 13
Acquired: In a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first round draft pick.
2008/2009 salary: $24.8 million
Signed through: 2011-2012
Last year’s numbers: 18.8 ppg, 3.4 apg, 9.2 rpg
Strengths: Where do you start? Garnett is widely acknowledged to be the most intense player in the league, a trait spread to his teammates last season. I mean, can you think of a single New England athlete who so drastically changed the culture of his sport as quickly and dramatically as Garnett did with the Celtics last season? But intangibles aside, Garnett is impossibly lanky and freakishly athletic. He’s a ferocious rebounder, has a great outside touch, and might be the best help defender in the league.
Weaknesses: Can we even talk about late-game disappearing acts anymore? Was that ever really an issue, when in reality the sample size of “big games” Garnett played in Minnesota was very small? If you’re looking really hard for a fault, you can say that Garnett played second fiddle to Paul Pierce during the playoffs. Pierce was clearly the team’s MVP during the postseason, but maybe it was supposed to be that way. Everything worked out alright, anyways.
What to expect: Garnett is the heart and soul of this Celtics team. He’s the team’s best player on the court, and his box office appeal, as well as the way he is marketed, makes him the face of the franchise off the court. Will he be as freakishly motivated as ever now that he’s won it all? The guess here is that he’s been playing that way for so long, he doesn’t know any other way.
That’s it! The season begins tomorrow night, and I for one cannot wait. I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow with that “Christmas morning” feeling. Give us your expectations for Garnett in our comments section, and check back tomorrow night for complete coverage of the season-opener at the Garden.