Legendary players cannot help being away from the game they love – that’s why many of them become TV commentators or analysts. As someone who played and won at the highest levels, they earned the right to voice their views and opinions. However, this does not mean they don’t catch heat for ridiculous takes and absurd player projections. In the case of Kevin Garnett, he once called a rookie a future MVP of the league.
KG calls Thon Maker a future MVP
Garnett trained with then-sophomore Thon Maker in 2017, and he came away impressed. KG even went on to say Maker reminds him of his young self. At that time, the Australian was still with the Milwaukee Bucks, and according to KG, the Bucks had a future MVP and defensive monster on their hands. Great prediction, wrong player.
“He’s a young, exuberant athlete who has a lot of tools — he has touch; he has agility; he has really, good feet. He has a really good shot from 3-point all the way up to 19 to 21 feet. He has very good bones, as we say. Thon is going to be the MVP of the league one day. Mark it down. He has the bones. He has the appetite to be able to chase something like that.”Kevin Garnett, BR
A player quick on his feet with a large wingspan and a nice touch from the perimeter would typically make up the qualities of the future big men of the league. However, KG might have stretched himself here because one thing that separates great players from good players is the drive to improve and succeed. For the former first-round draftee, it has been a tough climb.
Maker failed to live up to the hype surrounding his name. Injuries affected his progress, but from the looks of it, being the future MVP of the NBA might not happen for him. He has suffered from groin, ankle, and shoulder injuries from 2018 to 2020. He played eight games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2020 and registered 3.8 points, two rebounds, and 0.5 blocks. This man once tallied five blocks as a Milwaukee Buck but failed to gain the trust of Mike Budenholzer and found himself traded to Detroit and then Cleveland. With his career in limbo, some wonder if he was a victim of too many expectations too soon.
Expectations vs. reality
Can expectations or challenges affect a player’s progress? It depends on the player’s ability to handle the pressure and extra attention that comes with greatness. In the case of Kobe Bryant, all the young players he mentored improved and eventually fulfilled his personal challenges to them.
Kobe challenged Giannis Antetokounmpo to become MVP and NBA champion. The Freak fulfilled it last season. Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young, and Kawhi Leonard are also coming along just fine. If Maker sought his challenge from Kobe, would he have accomplished it? That remains to be seen, and again it depends on how a player sees the expectations and rises above them.
Sometimes players aren’t bad but just don’t live up to the hype. Andrew Wiggins is not a bad NBA player – but as the no.1 pick, everyone expected a franchise cornerstone. That pressure prevented his growth in Minnesota. Ever since he joined the Warriors, Wiggins has steadily improved and is a solid NBA starter.
KG’s prediction showed that just because you are an all-time great, it doesn’t mean your scouting skills are all-time great as well. Hell, two of the greatest players ever, Michael Jordan and LeBron James, have questionable GM decisions (to say the least). They know more about the game than most, but there’s a difference between playing and judging the ability of others to play.