Monday , Mar , 15 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Garnett is playing like an MVP

(Sports Network) – Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett is playing like and MVP this
season for the Midwest Division-leading Timberwolves.

Playing in his ninth season in the NBA, Garnett, who has started all 67 of
Minnesota’s games this season, is averaging career-highs in points (24.6 ppg)
and rebounds (13.9 rpg).

This past offseason, Minnesota made some moves to change Garnett’s supporting
cast. The Timberwolves acquired forward Latrell Sprewell in a four-team deal
from New York, signed free agent center Michael Olowokandi and completed a
trade with Milwaukee for All-Star guard Sam Cassell.

With Cassell and Sprewell in the same lineup as Garnett, Minnesota’s opponents
cannot just concentrate on stopping the nine-year veteran. Cassell and
Sprewell have managed to take a lot of pressure off the shoulders of the nine-
year veteran.

A seven-time All-Star, Garnett has scored at least 20 points 56 times this
season and has recorded 56 double-doubles this season. He has also registered
two triple-doubles.

Garnett has definitely benefited from having a more talented lineup around
him. He still faces double-teams every game, but if Cassell and/or Sprewell is
having a hot shooting night it forces the opposition to have to spread out the
defense and worry about other players on the court. This is something that
Garnett has not had during his career.

A scary thought for Minnesota management its fans, where would the
Timberwolves be without Garnett. Don’t discount the additions of Cassell and
Sprewell, but the fact is that the Timberwolves are Garnett’s team and they
will only go as far as he can take them.

Remember, the MVP award is supposed to be for the player that is the most
valuable to his team.

The 27-year-old Garnett deserves to dethrone two-time Most Valuable Player Tim
Duncan and capture his first MVP award of his career. However the sad thing
here is that Garnett’s unbelievable accomplishments this season will be lost
if Minnesota does not have success in the postseason.

Minnesota has been eliminated from the first round of the playoffs for seven
straight years. In 29 postseason games, Garnett has averaged 21.1 points and
12.6 rebounds. A one-man show cannot win in the playoffs in the West, which is
evident from Minnesota’s inability to advance.

Garnett needs to lead Minnesota out of the first round of the playoffs this
season. If he can accomplish this, than no one will down play his awesome
regular season.

Originally selected out of high school (Farragut Academy) by Minnesota in the
first round (fifth pick overall) of 1995 NBA Draft, Garnett has been awesome
in 2003-04. Even with the more talented roster that he has been surrounded
with, Garnett is the leader and go-to guy on the Timberwolves’ roster.
Minnesota will only go as far as its All-Star power forward will take them.

Minnesota leads the defending champion San Antonio Spurs by two games in the
Midwest Division. The Timberwolves and Spurs meet on March 18th at the SBC
Center and on March 23rd at the Target Center. In the previous two meetings,
San Antonio and Minnesota both picked up a victory on the road.

The Spurs and Timberwolves both have 15 contests remaining on their schedules.
Minnesota has just six more home games, while San Antonio will play nine more
games at the SBC Center.

Even with just about a month to go in the season, it is safe to say that
Garnett is the clear-cut winner for this year’s MVP.