San Antonio’s Tim Duncan or Boston’s Kevin Garnett?
One late nineties duel faded to the background due to circumstance. Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are the elite posts of the modern era, but comparisons were difficult because ‘The Big Fundamental’ was with a great organization in San Antonio, while the ‘The Big Ticket’ was stuck in dysfunctional Minnesota …
Each week, HoopsVibe the Blog will drop a player comparison for fans to weigh-in on. We call it head-to-head …
Each era has their match-up. Once upon time, there was Wilt Chamberlain versus Bill Russell. The eighties forced fans to pick between Larry Bird’s three-point gun and Magic Johnson’s high-dribble and no-look. Today, it’s Kobe Bryant against LeBron James.
These match-ups polarize, sparking enthusiastic debates in barbershops, offices, and playgrounds.
One late nineties duel faded to the background due to circumstance. Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are the elite posts of the modern era, but comparisons were difficult because ‘The Big Fundamental’ was with a great organization in San Antonio, while the ‘The Big Ticket’ was stuck in dysfunctional Minnesota.
Nobody knew what Garnett was capable of. Comparisons were all speculation, revolving around the two switching teams.
Not any more. Last summer, K.G. was freed from Siberia. Minnesota traded him to Boston; of course, the Celtics then won the 2007-08 NBA Title by beating the Lakers in six games.
Fans finally saw the four-man play with talented teammates, a solid coach, and a great organization. Most importantly, there was now evidence to try answering this epic question: Duncan or Garnett?
Read both arguments in this edition of head-to-head and get at us with your decision in the comment box below.
Duncan or Garnett on defense …
Timmy D is a staple on the all-defensive team. He rebounds, blocks shots, shuts down his check, and helps others. The Wake Forest alum has made getting stops the priority in Texas.
Garnett is also an all-defensive squad fixture because of his rebounding and individual/team skills. Opposition scoring is the best measure of his impact. Last year, Garnett helped Boston reduce points allowed from 99 in 2006-07 to 90.
Edge: Even. Both are interior anchors.
Duncan or Garnett on offense …
For years, the Spurs have run sets through Duncan. The lanky big has effective low-post moves and a strong face-up game, including his trademark bank-shot. On pick-and-rolls, the veteran can attack the basket or pop to the perimeter for a jumper.
Garnett is a first-option, using athleticism to average more than 20 points per night over his career. He possesses a beautiful turnaround fade-away and, through hard work, has extended his outside range. K.G. is best known for attacking the basket, ramming home a spectacular dunk or improbable tip-in.
Edge: Even. Both can score. But both get points without hogging the ball or excluding others.
Duncan or Garnett on intangibles …
Duncan is the Spurs’ best player in games and practice. The benefit here is simple. If the best player listens to the coach and works hard all the time, then everybody else must get in line and buy-in to the team concept.
Garnett is intense. Always has been. His passion holds others accountable. Last year, from day one of training camp, he set the tone for the world champion Celtics.
Edge: Again, even. Each is a first-rate leader.
Our Call: Very close, but Duncan gets the nod. Fans shouldn’t punish Garnett for having a poor team in Minnesota. Fans also shouldn’t punish Duncan for having a great team and winning four NBA Titles in San Antonio. But …
If Garnett wins consecutive championships, the argument changes. After all, Duncan has four Lawrence O’Brien Trophies, but he never won them back-to-back.
Like I said, a classic match-up that is bound to spark more debate.