This isn't exactly new news to most Celtics fans. Even though he isn't the offensive force he was in his MVP days and he may have lost a step or two in recent years, he still manages to make an impact on the court. ESPN The Mag did a long story talking about him - in particular what stats were developed to measure his impact. The verdict: he's still very good.
Why is the seven-footer still so valuable? Well, Garnett is just as dominant defensively as he ever was. Though he's averaging a block a game this season, down from his peak of 2.2 in 2003-04, he finds other ways of impeding good looks. He'll stick his hands on the inside of an opponent's chest, positioning them almost like a lineman in football, to knock a guy off his cut. He's also an expert at jostling with his legs to push players off the blocks. "He's got the awareness of what the other team is trying to get to and how to disrupt it," says Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. That's particularly evident in Garnett's defense of the pick-and-roll. "He's one of the best ever," Nash says. "He anticipates and takes up a ton of space."
The story goes on to mention another old friend of ours.
KG's influence can most directly be seen in his protégé, former Celtic Kendrick Perkins. Like Garnett, Perkins is a master of the little things: cement slab screens, tough D and good communication. That may be why Oklahoma City, a team that takes analytics seriously, targeted Perkins last year, even though he averaged just six points and eight rebounds a game in an injury-prone season. After Perkins' emotional return to Boston at the beginning of this season -- a Thunder win -- Doc Rivers said, "You know, his influence on that team is dramatic to me. You can see it with the bigs. They block out; they're all defensive players now. Perk has completely changed the culture of that team. And he used Kevin's playbook."
If we can't win a title this year, I'll be rooting for Kendrick and his new running mates to do so.