Here's the deal: I'm going to suggest to you something that sounds outlandish and then explain why it isn't that outlandish. In return, you promise to at least give it a chance. Deal?
Here we go: Is Kevin Garnett the MVP of this year's Timberwolves?
Yes, I said this year. Yes, Garnett is almost 40 and nearly twice as old as the young core players for the Wolves.
And yes, it seems particularly weird to ask this when in the Wolves most recent game, Andrew Wiggins piled up 31 points, Karl-Anthony Towns put up his typical 17 points and 12 rebounds and even Ricky Rubio stuffed the stat sheet with at least five of each of these: points, rebounds, assists and steals. The Wolves beat the Clippers 108-102. Garnett didn't even play.
But let's look inside a couple interesting numbers before we quit on this idea.
1) The Clippers game was the first game this season the Timberwolves won in which Garnett — slowed lately by a knee problem — didn't play. Going in, they were 14-24 with KG and 0-12 without him.
2) Lest you think it's coincidence that the Wolves have won at a much higher rate when Garnett plays … well, it's not. He's been one of their most effective players when on the court.
For all the talk of the Wolves' trio of under-21 players producing big numbers (Wiggins, Towns and Zach LaVine), the Wolves are getting outscored by an average of 10.3 points per 100 possessions when those three are on the court. That's the worst mark among the top 20 (in terms of minutes played) three-player combinations on this year's team.
Garnett, meanwhile, is in each of the top six groups. The most effective three-player group: Garnett, Ricky Rubio and Tayshaun Prince, at plus-9.3 points per 100 possessions.
3) When Garnett is on the court, the Wolves gain about 5.5 points per 100 possessions. When he's not on the court, they lose about 6.5 points, with virtually the entire difference being defense. So the Wolves are 12 points better per 100 possessions when Garnett is on the court vs. off the court. The only regular even close to matching that is Rubio, at 10.4 points better. Wiggins? 2.4 better. Towns? 0.7 points better. LaVine? 7.8 points worse.
Towns is on track to be the Wolves' best all-around player. Wiggins is their best scorer. LaVine is their most dynamic player. Rubio might be their most important player.
But their most valuable player this year? Even though he's missed 13 games and plays only 15 minutes per game when he does play, it might be the franchise's all-time best player — the one who's twice as old as the kids getting all the attention.