The Kevin Garnett mold: A prototype for modern-day NBA forwards
Kevin "Big Ticket" Garnett is probably what most General Managers of tanking teams look for when they scout upcoming drafts for raw talent. An MVP award, a DPOY award and one single NBA championship with Boston in 2008 combined with 15 All-Star appearances stand as testimony to his legend.
Listed at 6'11, Garnett was not a model center or power forward in the NBA when he was drafted. One of the few rookies to be drafted out of high school, Garnett had skills and ball handling moves that few of his size had ever had.
The Timberwolves, who lucked into drafting at fifth overall in 1995, rarely put him in positions to succeed; most of his Wolves career consisted of his dragging his underdog teams to the playoffs - with one Western Conference Finals in 2004 to show for it all. In his first stint with the Wolves, the best teammate he had was Stephon Marbury, who was his teammate for two seasons before there was a clash of egos between the duo.
At 6'11, but skinny and tall, Garnett could space the floor in a way few NBA big men at that time ever could. That is because most big men back then didn't have a great jumper or shot outside the paint. Imagine if, during last season's playoffs, Steven Adams had a respectable shot outside the paint against the Jazz. Gobert would have been dragged outside the paint, leaving Westbrook and George with open lanes to the rim.
Most of the Wolves' management time was spent wondering how Garnett could body up other big men in the post, when in reality they should have used him to lure his man away from the rim.
Nowadays, every single unicorn seven footers is labeled a Garnett or a Dirk. Unique big men who could shoot threes and were comfortable away from the rim, they laid the prototype for today's modern positions.
Case in point: DeAndre Ayton, this year's draft's first overall pick, does not shoot threes, or even long twos. This often allows teams to double team Devin Booker off the dribble, as they have a predictable notion of where Ayton will be - stationed under the post. Compare this to Jaren Jackson Jr (34.1% 3PT), who is used by Memphis to space the floor effectively, and the difference immediately becomes clear.