Sports Reference Blog

Kevin Garnett vs the Trade Voltron

Posted by Jonah Gardner on July 31, 2015

Today is the 8th anniversary of the Kevin Garnett trade. Of course, there have now been 3 Kevin Garnett trades, but you know the one I'm talking about. In 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves changed NBA history by sending KG to Boston in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and the picks that would be come Wayne Ellington and Jonny Flynn.

As you know, that trade went much better for Boston and KG than it did for the Timberwolves, who haven't been to the playoffs since. It's easy to criticize this trade, but Minnesota was in a difficult position for two reasons. First, Kevin Garnett is a once-in-a-generation talent, so almost no trade could have brought back a fair return. And, second, they couldn't build a Voltron out of the players they received in the trade.

While there's nothing we can do about the former, we decided to celebrate the anniversary of the trade by doing the latter. I give you, the Kevin Garnett Trade Voltron:

Trade Voltron


First of all, thank you for not immediately closing the tab in horror. Second, you may be wondering how we built the Voltron. What we did was combine every minute, rebound, assist, steal, block, and point put up by a player in the KG trade during their time in Minnesota (we didn't count Telfair's 2010 stint there, since he was traded away in 2009 and then returned in a second trade later). If you add it all together, here's what you get:

25936 4366 2174 701 418 11243
Provided by
Generated 7/31/2015.


Those are pretty good. For comparison's sake, here's what KG did in Boston:

12266 3301 1078 460 394 6233
Provided by
Generated 7/31/2015.


On sheer volume, KG can't compete with Voltron, who played over twice as many minutes and thus has higher counting stats. But we also keep track of Per 36 Minute numbers. To calculate per 36 minute numbers, you divide a player's raw stat, say total points, by the number of minutes they played to get a per minute number. Then you multiple that number by 36. Why do that? Well when you're comparing players with vastly different minutes totals, it lets you see them on an even playing field. By using 36 minutes as a baseline, we get totals that look similar to the kinds of per game stats we're used to seeing.

So, with that in mind, can KG defeat Voltron on Per 36 Minute numbers?

Kevin Garnett 9.7 3.2 1.4 1.2 18.3
Voltron 6.1 3.0 1.0 0.6 15.6
Provided by
Generated 7/31/2015.


Poor Voltron. Despite containing two point guards, Voltron can't even beat KG on assists or steals per 36 minutes. Despite containing a center reknowned for his scoring prowess, Voltron is still 3 rebounds and 3 points per 36 minutes below KG. And, well, the blocks were never going to be fair.

However, I wanted to understand my creation, so I did a Season Finder search to see what, exactly, I had built. While there's no perfect match, it seemed like the closest player to my creation was a less block-heavy 1999-00 T-Mac.

Either way, there you have it. Definite, statistical proof that KG tougher than Voltron.


KG vs Voltron

One Response to “Kevin Garnett vs the Trade Voltron”

  1. spycake Says:

    Fun, but totaling and averaging all the players received in the trade isn't that meaningful, especially for a rebuilding club. If the Red Sox had theoretically traded Babe Ruth and not sold him, and if they had sent time-travelling Neifi Perez along with him should we average Perez's stats with Ruth's to see how good the trade was for NY?

    The KG deal certainly wasn't good by any measure, but on simple per-36 minute rate stats, Al Jefferson in MN was fairly close to KG in Boston (lacking those assists, though, as you mention). (Although simple per-36 minute rate stats don't tell nearly the whole story either -- Jefferson compiled some similar numbers but was no KG.) The fact that the Wolves received and played a bunch of garbage with him shouldn't drag that down.