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"They became unguardable" — Ex-Timberwolves on Garnett-Marbury duo's advantage over Stockton-Malone

Sam Mitchell and Flip Saunders discuss why Stephon Marbury and Kevin Garnett could've toppled John Stockton and Karl Malone
Stephen Marbury, Kevin Garnett, John Stockton, Karl Malone

Malone and Stockton vs. Garnett and Marbury

The duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone is seen as the standard point guard-power forward tandem. Their pick-and-roll was regarded as one of the most lethal plays in the 90s. However, according to ex-members of the Minnesota Timberwolves, there is a duo that may be better than the legendary Utah Jazz combo. And it is none other than the tandem of Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury.

Explosive scorer

The strength of Stockton-Malone’s pick-and-roll hinged on Stockton’s shooting abilities and Malone’s excellent finishing around the rim. But according to former Timberwolves forward and coach Sam Mitchell, the Garnett-Marbury duo had one particular advantage over the Jazz legends: the presence of Marbury and his limitless scoring potential.

“Oh, they were good, man. You put those two in the pick-and-roll, it was over. Because Steph could flat-out score, and he was strong and he could get to the basket. And Steph had an assh--e streak in him that you've gotta have. Oh, he had it in him. The great ones gotta have that in them,” Mitchell said, per Bleacher Report.

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“Maybe even better [than Stockton-Malone], because Steph was so much more of a scorer than John Stockton was. And Steph could facilitate, just like Stockton, but Steph was just so much more a dominant scorer than Stockton,” Mitchell added.

Mitchell raises a fair point. While Marbury only averaged as much as 17.7 points per game in his stint in Minnesota, the guard went on to average 23.9 points per game in New Jersey. Starbury utilized his quickness, lethal stroke, and ridiculous lay-up package to score at will. Stockton was one heck of a guard, but he did not have Marbury’s supreme athletic abilities.


Since we’re talking about a duo, Marbury wasn’t the only one who brought his skills. Kevin Garnett, too, was a great roll or pop man. According to ex-Wolves coach Flip Saunders, Garnett is a great screener and a versatile scorer.

“KG, to this day, is probably one of the best screen-setters. KG can pick and pop and score, he can score at the rim. Steph was like a blur coming off screens. He had the ability to shoot from behind. They became, at times, pretty much unguardable,” Saunders said.

Those who saw Garnett's play would agree with Saunders’ observation. KG was pretty much a unicorn back in the day. He was one of the few power forwards who had a smooth stroke around the perimeter. He was also mobile and had a greater defensive presence than Malone, too.

It would have been great to see the Garnett-Marbury bloom into a legendary tandem. But alas, they will go down as one of the many what-if stories in NBA history. But it is better to have a page in the history books than be totally forgotten. 

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