Kevin Garnett knows a thing or two about what it takes to be great in the NBA. From his 15 All-Star appearances, to his NBA MVP season of 2003-04 to his Kia Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2007-08 to his NBA title in 2008, Garnett has those accomplishments — and many more — to his name. That gives him the authority to speak on which players are, on pure potential, destined for stardom and he sees one on the horizon few may think fits that category.
In a Q&A session with Jonathan Abrams of Bleacher Report, Garnett singled out Milwaukee Bucks youngster Thon Maker as someone who has caught his eye in future MVP discussions. Garnett has worked with Maker individually — as recently as last week — and heaped praise upon the Bucks’ rising star forward:
B/R: You’ve done a lot of work with Thon Maker, right?
KG: Thon Maker reminds me a lot of myself. He loves the game. 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 three-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.
Aside from those in the running for future hardware-based accolades, Garnett had thoughts on the Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant feud that has cropped up from time to time over the last year or so.
B/R: Russell Westbrook is the player most compared to you, in terms of intensity and passion. Have you guys ever talked—and found similarities in where that drive comes from?
KG: I talked to Russ a couple times about personal s–t—real recognize real—but I respect his talent. I respect his appetite. We have a similar background. We have a similar path, if you will. I played with guys like Steph [Marbury] when we were super best friends, and he left, and that left an immediate mark and impacted me in a certain way that I looked at teammates different after that. The ones that stuck—Malik [Sealy], Sam Mitchell, Joe Smith, Gary Trent, Trenton Hassell, Troy Hudson—those guys became real friends with me after that because of that situation.
So I totally understood it when he was going through the KD saga and all that and how both of them moved on—and are starting to make interesting basketball when it comes to the West and have us all watching with open eyes.
And as talk of the one-and-done rule in the NBA possibly being reversed makes headlines, Garnett chimed in on that topic. As a former preps-to-pros phenom himself back in 1995, he envisions the rule changing — but not how some people think it will:
Bleacher Report: There’s been a lot of talk lately of the one-and-done rule being altered. You were one of the first to jump from high school. Do you see the eligibility rules being changed again?
Kevin Garnett: No, I don’t see the rule changing. And if I do see the rule changing, the rule is going to be changed not for the betterment of college [players]. I think they would try to get the kids to stay a little longer. I think kids leaving early out of high school hurts the college game. You can do it in tennis; you can do it any other sport, leave early, but basketball [is] the most impactful game, the most recognizable game—so I understand the control or the ability to try and control it. Players are going to find ways to get through it, loop[hole] it.
They said it was bad for business, but they’re making money on all these young guys. No one’s talking about that part of it. No one wants to speak about the—I don’t want to call it bullying, but it is a bit of a monopoly when you set the structure up that you got to take a certain path.
I think they’re going to try to strangle the overseas option for a lot of these kids and make it more boxed in, if you will, where you either got to go to J.C. or college or something or sit out. And I think these players are going to look at these options and these solutions, and they’re going to take some of them. Some are going to go to college, which is always a good thing, but I think growing up and going overseas too—that’s a whole other experience.