Kevin Garnett came in to the league as a 6-foot-13 small forward who initiated plays like a point guard, turned in to an MVP power forward and is now the starting center for the Boston Celtics. He might not get enough credit for that transformation, but it’s pretty amazing. And through those transitions, he’s always been an excellent defender, making 12 All-Defensive teams and taking home the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year award. He is as good at defense as he is at yelling at smaller foreign players, and he’s GREAT at that.
But have you ever wondered how he got so good at defense and how he’s stayed so good at defense despite declining athleticism and increased facial hair wind resistance? It’s easy. He knows all the plays. From ESPN:
“The funny thing is, I wish he would be quiet on the floor and not call out your plays,” the Nets coach said in a bemused and complimentary tone Thursday morning prior to his team’s nationally-televised contest against KG’s Celtics. “He’s seen so much. We’ll call a play and he’ll say, ‘Joe is going over here and Deron is going here.’ It’s not funny anymore, OK?
“As much as (Rajon) Rondo quarterbacks their offense, (KG) quarterbacks their defense. … I like every now and then when we’ll surprise him with something, and then maybe he’ll look at the bench and curse the other coaches out, not me.”
Can you even imagine how frustrating this must be? It’s hard enough to score in the NBA without one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game telling all his teammates exactly where your players are going, so it has to be at least double tough to do so when that is happening. Maybe even triple tough, but I’d have to check the math.
That being said, the only way to combat Kevin Garnett knowing everything you’re trying to do is by going completely out of the box with your play calling. Try the I-formation or the neutral zone trap or the double steal, work in some Total Football concepts, put four guys on the same block and have them lift the fifth guy to the rim — I don’t know about the legality of any of this, but necessity is the mother of invention, so I think it’s all worth a try. Either that or just continue to let Kevin Garnett make you look like a jerk by calling the same old plays time and time again.