Kevin Garnett will make it into the NBA Hall of Fame. Garnett has averaged 18.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in his 20-year career. That's amazing considering he hasn't averaged more than 16 points per game since 2007-08 and only averaged 6.5 points last year. He also hasn't averaged more than 10 rebounds since 2006-07. He won a championship as part of the 2007-08 Boston Celtics with Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce. But Kevin Garnett is no Josh Smith.
And by that, I do not mean that Josh Smith is better than him. What I mean is that you can't leave him open shots.
In the Detroit Pistons' game against the Brooklyn Nets, Garnett finished with 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting. Garnett shot 10 times outside of the paint, making four of them. A shooting percentage of .400 doesn't sound that great, but when you consider that the NBA as a whole is shooting 0.373 from 10+ feet, then .400 isn't bad. Smith is shooting 0.320 from 10+ feet. Smith also shot .400 for the night on shots 10+ feet from the basket, going 2-for-5, for what it's worth.
Both players are listed as power forwards. However, Garnett is not your prototypical power forward. He even plays center from time to time. Unfortunately, stats.nba.com does not have shooting statistics from 1995-96 as far as distance goes, so only one year of Garnett's career won't be included in the following data.
From 1996-97 through today, Garnett has taken 20,011 shots. Of those shots, 11,305 have come from between 10 feet and 29 feet from the basket. That's 56.5% of his total shots during that time. He's made 5,002 of those shots, good for a .442 field-goal percentage. Smith, for his career, has taken almost 10,000 shots (should be at 20,000 by the end of the year). He's taken 4,306 of his career 9,960 shots from 10-29 feet making only 1,369. That's only .318 percent, right around the .320 he's averaging this year. Therefore, unlike Josh Smith (as Faried alluded to), you cannot leave Kevin Garnett open for jump shots. Yet, the Pistons did.
I took the time to take some images from the game to show you where Garnett catches the ball so you can see how far his defender is from him, and then another image of when he shoots the ball to show you how much space he had. All three Pistons big men left him too open too often. Here are the images.
In this first shot, Smith was paying attention to Deron Williams just seconds before as it looked like he was going to penetrate. As the ball swung around, he lost sight of Garnett. Garnett would miss.
This shot really upset me. Both Smith and Andre Drummond have made it down the floor. Mason Plumlee is Drummond's guy. Garnett is still running up the floor. As the ball is kicked to Garnett, Smith points his finger to Garnett as if to tell Dre to go guard Garnett. THAT IS NOT HIS RESPONSIBILITY YOU A$$!!! Garnett would sink it.
Smith went to take Deron on the pick and roll and never even tried to recover to Garnett. Nor did Brandon Jennings even put a hand up (he was in Swag-mode). Thankfully he clanked it.
Greg Monroe properly switched onto Alan Anderson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope onto Garnett. Unfortunately, KCP didn't pay too much attention to Garnett which didn't matter much because he was short with it.
Three players were paying too much attention (at this point in the game) to Joe Johnson and left KG wide open. He'd miss it though.
Ball movement caused Drummond to show out on Jarrett Jack and Smith didn't get back in time to challenge Garnett. He'd hit a nice reverse layup.
This was set up by the lineup the Nets were able to put on the floor and SVG not countering. Having Drummond guard Garnett who can hit open shots takes Dre away from the post. The result was KG hitting an open long-two.
Though Smith got close on the closeout, it was only because Garnett has a habit of taking a dribble after receiving a pass before he shoots. Otherwise, he was left wide open again. Nothing. But. Net.
Bad rotation defense as the ball was being moved from one side to the other left Garnett open for a shot. It'd miss though.
Once again, Smith got lucky twice in this play. First, he got lucky that Garnett took a dribble and moved a step in as well as giving Smith time to get back. Secondly, he missed it.
Even with Monroe in the game as the center, Josh felt that he needed to patrol the paint. This left Garnett open for another jumper that he'd drain.
The defense on this play was actually superb. Monroe almost got the steal, but since nobody could corral the ball, Garnett got it and made a nice hook. Mind you, Garnett was Smith's assignment but Monroe had to switch onto him due to some screens.
Smith still hadn't learned, allowing KG to catch the ball plenty open. But KG has played this game for a while, so he let Smith come out and tried to drive past him. Thankfully, he missed the bank shot.
Smith got lucky by getting the block. Monroe was paying attention to Johnson (as he should have, he was hot at this point) and Smith was rotating back. However, I don't believe Smith would have blocked younger KG.
With the Pistons frantically trying to not lose momentum after having come back to take the lead, the defense was trying to press. This pulled Monroe far from the basket and Garnett got by him. The rotation was not quick enough and he got an easy layup against KCP.
As you can see, for the most part, Garnett got the ball with plenty of space to shoot. And when he did, he barely got a hand put in his face. When you have players like Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett, you have to respect a power forward who can shoot from further than 10 feet. When you have players like Josh Smith, you can get away letting him shoot out there.