Irish Coffee: How Kevin Garnett cements his Celtics legacy and ensures his number retires to the Garden rafters
|08.01.12 at 2:12 pm ET|
It didn’t take long after being traded on July 31, 2007 for Kevin Garnett to carve his name into Celtics lore. He poured the foundation for his legacy when he helped deliver the franchise’s 17th NBA championship, but has he cemented it enough to ensure his number will join the 20 others retired to the Garden rafters?
Garnett’s impact goes far beyond statistics, so the C’s may have already reserved a square to stitch his number between Cedric Maxwell‘s No. 31 and Paul Pierce‘s No. 34, but his three-year extension should assure him of never seeing another Celtic don the No. 5 again. And that assertion can be put into numbers.
Already, Garnett’s 5,229 regular-season points and 1,393 postseason points in a Celtics uniform rank him 27th and 16th in franchise history, respectively. Once you consider his 2,771 rebounds and 919 assists in the regular season as well as his 748 rebounds and 198 assists in the playoffs, he joins lists that already only respectively include 17 and seven Celtics players. The question remains: How much higher can Garnett climb?
Considering he’s missed 56 games over his first five regular seasons — between 9-18 percent of each year — and he’s missed another 24 of the C’s 93 playoff games in that span due to injury or suspension, projecting his current five-year numbers (regular season: 5,229 points, 2,771 rebounds, 919 assists, 382 steals, 332 blocks; postseason: 1,393 points, 748 rebounds, 198 assists, 101 steals, 87 blocks) over the next three seasons seems like a conservative estimate, even if he’ll be 39 at the end of his current contract.
That math regurgitates the following numbers over Garnett’s projected eight-year Celtics career:
Regular season: 8,366 points, 4,433 rebounds, 1,470 assists, 611 steals, 531 blocks
Postseason: 2,228 points, 1,196 rebounds, 316 assists, 161 steals, 139 blocks
In the 2012-13 NBA season alone, Garnett should surpass 6,000 points, leaving Ray Allen (5,987), Bailey Howell (5,812), Don Chaney (5,689), Dee Brown (5,512) and Larry Siegfried (5,420) in his wake. The projected 8,366 points would also leapfrog him over Cedric Maxwell (8,311), Reggie Lewis (7,902), Ed Macauley (7,882), Dennis Johnson (6,805) and Danny Ainge (6,257) into 17th on the all-time scoring list. The Celtics have retired the numbers of all 16 others with the lone exception of Antoine Walker (11,386), who never won a title.
In addition, Garnett’s 2,228 projected postseason points would put him seventh on that scoring list, between Robert Parish (2,070) and Bill Russell (2,673), and the other six all have their numbers in the Garden rafters.
Scoring is one thing. Contributing across the board, as Garnett does, is another. Only three players in Celtics history have exceeded 8,300 points, 4,400 rebounds, 1,400 assists, 600 steals and 500 blocks: Pierce (22,591 points, 5,417 rebounds, 3,401 assists, 1,349 steals, 561 blocks), Larry Bird (21,791 points, 8,974 rebounds, 5,695 assists, 1,556 steals, 755 blocks) and Robert Parish (18,245 points, 11,051 rebounds, 1,679 assists, 873 steals, 1,703 blocks). Based on his projected numbers over eight seasons, Garnett would be the fourth.
Since the NBA didn’t begin officially recording steals or blocks as statistics until the 1973-74 season, we’ll go ahead and assume Bill Russell (14,522 points, 21,620 rebounds, 4,100 assists) and Dave Cowens (13,192 points, 10,170 rebounds, 2,828 assists, 569 steals, 473 blocks) — who played three Celtics seasons with unrecorded steals and blocks from 1970-73 — would certainly stretch that list to six.
There’s also a chance John Havlicek (26,395 points, 8,007 rebounds, 6,114 assists) and Bob Cousy (16,955 points, 4,781 rebounds, 6,945 assists) could complete the list at eight, although neither was much of a shot-blocker. (Cousy was 6-foot-1, and Havlicek recorded 117 blocks in the five seasons of his 16-year career that the stat was recorded — a projection of 375 from 1962-78.) Either way, Garnett would join some elite company.
Likewise, only one player has exceeded 2,200 points, 1,100 rebounds, 300 assists, 150 steals and 125 blocks in his Celtics postseason career: Bird (3,897 points, 1,683 rebounds, 1,062 assists, 296 steals, 145 blocks). Once again, we’ll throw Russell (2,673 points, 4,104 rebounds, 770 assists) into the mix.
Havlicek (3,776 points, 1,186 rebounds, 825 assists) and Cowens (1,684 points, 1,285 rebounds, 333 assists) may have done it, too, but it’s doubtful either reached 125 blocks in his playoff career. Pierce (2,728 points, 669 rebounds, 669 assists, 133 steals, 69 blocks) would need a postseason prayer to reach either 1,100 rebounds or 125 blocks. So, that would leave Bird, Russell and Garnett. Not bad.
Either way you slice it, unless Garnett joins the Lakers at age 39 or falls completely off the map in Year 1 of his new contract, his No. 5 deserves to be raised to the Garden rafters in 2015 or whenever he decides to retire.
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