Garnett and D-Robinson would have been a great tandem. Manu, Parker and Garnett would've been a great trio once those young guards came of age. Gotta believe Garnett would've won some Championships with all those opportunities to do so.
Then I got thinking about the 1999 Spurs team that won it's first NBA title. Duncan was an MVP candidate from his rookie season (after 4 years of college) but it took KG a few years to get there coming out of high school. Would 1999 have come too soon for KG? KG made his first All-NBA First team in 2000 and established himself as an MVP caliber player that season also. The year before, KG was very very good but not quite at that level. Top 10ish - just inside or just outside.
Do the 1999 Spurs have enough to a win title with the drop-off from the more mature Duncan to the still maturing almost there Kevin Garnett?
David Robinson was still a #1 scoring option in 1998 during Duncan's rookie season. He was the Spurs main scorer for the first half of the season until Duncan took over in the second half after establishing himself as the more versatile and reliable scorer than Robinson was. Robinson took a step back during the second half of that year and another step back the following year. He was still likely young enough and able enough to amp up his scoring while KG continued to develop his. Is that enough to keep the Spurs as 1999 NBA Champs?
That team didn't have a great supporting cast. An old perimeter group of Avery Johnson (33 years old undersized PG), Mario Elie (35 years old) and Sean Elliott (11ppg off a kidney transplant - never the same after that). Their bench did not have a lot. An old Will Perdue. A young Malik Rose. One good shooter in Steve Kerr (33yo). A very old Jerome Kersey at 37 years of age. A good defensive guard in Antonio Daniels. I forgot Jaren Jackson (31yo). He was a good 3&D wing off the bench.
Their finals matchup was a comfortable one. New York lacked size and I would fully expect KG and D-Rob to feast and destroy them. The Lakers in the 2nd round were mess so they should beat them as well. Portland in the Conference Finals would be their main opponent. Their first round opponent would be whoever replaced the T-Wolves as 8th seed. Maybe a challenger but probably not.
There wasn't as much different in the W-L between high and low seeds that year due to shortened 50 game season so some of those low seed teams were dangerous. If Duncan was on the T-Wolves teams, I think they would've won more games in regular season and been higher than the 8th seed. So 7th seed was Sacramento. They were just starting to put things together. San Antonio has clear advantage in that matchup. So probably just Portland standing in San An's way.
The 2000, 2001, 2002 seasons - San Antonio too weak on perimeter to beat Shaq & Kobe LA Lakers. David Robinson was continuing to age during this period.
Kevin Garnett was phenomenal in 2003. But I think Duncan was even better and I am not convinced KG could've won a title with that supporting cast. David Robinson was old (37 years old) and playing only 23mpg in the playoffs. He was attempting only 5 FGAs per game while playing very good defense & rebounding well also. Parker was a 2nd year guard averaging 15ppg but was up and down like a yo-yo during that postseason. Manu was a rookie averaging only 20mpg regular season to 27mpg in postseason (7.6ppg rs to 9.4ppg postseason). Stephen Jackson was young too. Only a 12ppg 4rpg 2apg guy. Malik Rose and Bruce Bowen were rock solid glue guys.
Parker and Ginobili would've flourished offensively next to a high post big man like Garnett but I am not convinced they were ready to do so in 2003. They were too young. Lakers most likely winning a 4th straight title that season.
Then David Robinson retired and the Ginobili, Parker and KG era truly begins.
Ginobili and Parker took another year before truly establishing themselves as stars in the NBA doing so in the 2005 season. So I am not sure the Spurs win in 2004 either despite KG being at his peak over this 2003 & 2004 period.
But from then on -- 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 -- I think the Spurs are clearly the best team in the league and have a great chance of winning anywhere from 1 to 4 titles over this period.
Then they go head to head with the Lakers of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant with a healthy Andrew Bynum, 6th man Lamar Odom and a quality supporting cast.
San Antonio's own supporting cast was aging out during this period. Duncan did not have enough help in the paint and the Spurs lacked quickness, size and athleticism on the wings. As good of a trio as KG, Parker and Ginobili were -- I think the quality of the Spurs supporting cast likely costs them here until the arrivals of Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter. So I will stick with the LA Lakers as title winners in 2009 and 2010.
Edit: Oh, KG got hurt in 2009 didn't he. So that would have definitely wiped them out that year.
20112012-2015 sees the final Spurs era under Kevin Garnett. An aging Garnett but still the team's anchor complemented by the offensive talents of Tony Parker alongside an aging Manu Ginobili as well as the youth and athleticism of Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter along with some vet experience from guys like Boris Diaw.
Kawhi did not arrive until 2012. Danny Green arrived in late 2011 but did not play much. Established himself in 2012. Tiago Splitter arrived in 2011 but did not establish himself until 2013. I believe Splitter would've gotten more opportunities next to Garnett than Duncan because KG was more of a high post player and more accustomed to playing PF than Duncan was at that point. So I could see Splitter coming to prominence sooner. Still, I do not see them challenging for a title without Kawhi and Danny Green.
So from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 the Spurs have 4 shots at winning a title.
I don't know if they get past OKC in 2012. I have trouble remembering that series. James Harden played very well. Their speed and youth causing San Antonio problems. Don't remember much else.
The 2013 and 2014 teams got to the Finals and split the Championship series with the Miami Heat (who were the most talented team in the league 2011-2014 in my opinion).
The 2015 team lost in the first round in 7 games to CP3 / B-Griffin Clippers with Duncan having a great series. The wheels had pretty much come off of Garnett at that point so I do not see that result changing or the 2016 team being an improvement over Duncan's 2016 either.
So the 1999 team has a good chance at a ring.
The 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 teams are the best in the league over this period and each team has a great chance at winning a title each season.
The 2012 has a shot against OKC and the 2013 plus 2014 teams that split the Finals matchups against Miami have a good chance of winning titles.
Gotta like KG's chances at winning multiple championships with all those opportunities. That is 8 good opportunities. 4 where they were the clear cut most talented team in the league. 2 more against Miami where they were better coached more cohesive than the most talented team in the league. Plus 1999 where Portland was their only major hurdle.
How many? 3? 4? 5? 6?
No idea. Could have been more than Duncan won. Also could have been less. Or maybe the same.
But it surely would've been more than the 1 KG got playing in Minnesota & an older oft injured Boston team.
Fun to think about KG on those teams.
Excellent post, TP. I think KG would've had a shot to win in '03 and '04 though - he was 1B to Duncan's 1A in '03 (and I would even argue that he was as good as Duncan) and took his game to the next level (imo just short of a GOAT level peak) in '04. '03 might've not looked too pretty due to him lacking that resilient PO scoring that Duncan had, but I don't see that Spurs team not making a serious title run with him in '04 - KG was making an old Sam Cassell look like an All-NBA player due to his excellent ceiling raising skillset, I think he would've amplified Parker's driving game to make him the Cassell of the Spurs. The Wolves team came close to beating the Lakers in the WCF, what's to say that a similarly talented '04 Spurs with Garnett can't do the same when there are no major fit issues by replacing Duncan with KG?
4th place in the 2019 Celticsstrong All-Time Draft!
PG: Stephen Curry, Steve Nash
SG: Tracy McGrady, Eddie Jones, Gail Goodrich
SF: Julius Erving, Shawn Marion
PF: Kevin Garnett, Elton Brand, Draymond Green
C: Dave Cowens, Artis Gilmore