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Kevin Garnett Returns Home

The age-old adage: “There’s no place like home,” is the perfect way to describe Kevin Garnett’s homecoming back to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that originally drafted him fifth overall in the 1995 NBA Draft.

The Brooklyn Nets sent Garnett back home to Minnesota in exchange for Thaddeus Young, and Garnett waived his no-trade clause to allow the trade to happen. A championship run in Brooklyn never materialized, and as Garnett approaches the twilight of his career, he’ll have to embrace a new role.

A mentor role.

Let’s face it: The Wolves are far from being contenders. By trading away Kevin Love and acquiring Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett as the centerpieces of the trade, the Wolves have put together a young core. 60 percent of their roster is either 25 years old or younger.

The return of Garnett, the elder statesman by a wide margin (Kevin Martin, 31, is second-oldest on the roster), signals the start of a culture change in Minnesota. Coach Flip Saunders knows it’s coming as well (via the Pioneer Press):

“It will be a shock to some of the old guys, too,” Saunders noted with a wry smile. “There’s no one better as far as work ethic and preparation than KG. It’s a great way for them to learn. We’re trying to facilitate those guys’ development. We’re trying to speed that up.”

Oh, there’s also the whole thing about getting your phone thrown in the toilet.

Even back in his days in Boston, Garnett was the leading factor for change, eventually winning a championship in 2008. Wherever KG went, things would be done the right way and with intensity. An immediate impact was made upon his arrival back in Minnesota:

“The Big Ticket” made his emotional return to the Target Center against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, and the Wolves came out on top with a 99-77 victory.

Garnett went 2-of-7 from the floor, scoring five points and grabbing eight rebounds in 18 minutes of action.

However, his impact went beyond the box score. It signaled a step back toward winning ways, something that hasn’t been done since the 2004-05 season. Opening up the game, Minnesota fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first quarter. If this was the case months ago, the game would have easily went to Washington.

Instead, Minnesota stayed resilient. Following the abysmal start, the Wolves went on to outscore the Wizards 86-57 over the last three quarters. The 77 points scored by the Wizards was a season low.

Garnett made sure his impact on the game, his teammates, coaching staff and the franchise would be felt all night, regardless of minutes played. He was visibly active on the sidelines, coaching up Wiggins and infecting his team with enthusiasm throughout the game, even getting the crowd into it as well.

While major work needs to be done to build the Wolves into a championship contender, Garnett is a guy who could be up to the task to help get them there. It’ll start now, but he also wants to see things through for a long time as part of ownership:

Garnett understands the pressure of being “The Man” in Minnesota, but can he elevate the talent level of these young stars and unlock their true potential? Can he help bring a championship to Minnesota?

It has been a long time coming for KG. Let’s see how well he can stir the pot and create a masterpiece. The state of Minnesota is now in your hands, Mr. Garnett.

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