Kevin Garnett is considered one of the best and most versatile power forwards in NBA history, and rightfully so. With his 6'11 frame, Garnett played like a forward, having a repertoire of moves he could use at all times to score the basket or get his teammates in the position to be successful. On top of that, he was a tremendous defender capable of locking down multiple positions if necessary, and we've seen him do it on numerous occasions.
When drafted straight out of high school at the age of 18 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Garnett was lucky because he had a good mentor that could team him all the fundamentals. It was the legendary power forward Kevin McHale who is still considered one of the greatest and craftiest players in the post. McHale worked as the Timberwolves' GM at the time, and he immediately saw the potential Garnett has. He knew right there they have a franchise player in the making.
McHale knew Garnett could impact the game in every way, both on offense and defense, so he insisted Garnett watches what other great players do and apply it to his playing style.
Look what Robert Horry can do, KG. He's shooting 3's, he's slashing. Look at Shawn Kemp. Look at his game. Look at Scottie Pippen, maybe the best at what he does. Now KG's your turn. Your turn to do it all. Bigs have problems on pick and roll defense. You need to overcome that problem. Watch Hakeem set a pick. Watch Larry Johnson set a pick. Watch Oakley.
The relationship between the two
Throughout the years, Garnett and McHale built a strong relationship in which he helped Garnett grow as a player and person.
He taught him, not only about the importance of perfecting the fundamentals, but how to always have the desire to want to learn more and improve daily. Learning how to fail was also one of the essential things McHale taught Garnett because it keeps you motivated, and when you reach success, it makes it so much better.
"He was Yoda to my young Luke Skywalker," Garnett writes. "Kevin gave me all the one-on-one time I needed. He was always about 'Be a four that can handle the ball. Be a four that can pass the ball. Master the simple stuff. Never settle for what you think you can do. Master what you think you can't do.' He polished me in a way no one could have. He taught me a skill set that he alone knew how to demonstrate."
"Kevin taught me that satisfaction is the enemy of progress. If you're satisfied with your game, you ain't growing your game. Turn frustration into fearlessness. Don't let mistakes f**k you up. Be grateful for your mistakes because they're the key to improvements."
Having a mentor like McHale, a true professional, helped KG reach the heights he did, even though that never translated to a championship for the Timberwolves. Nevertheless, it's a perfect example of how having such a legendary and knowledgeable mentor could positively impact a young player.
It was the same for Kobe Bryant and his relationship with Jerry West when he first joined the Lakers. Players need positive and impactful mentors because that is one aspect that sometimes gets neglected in the process of developing a player.