Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

A few weeks before the start of the 2016-17 NBA season, future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett took to Instagram to announce his retirement from the game after two decades of outstanding service to the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Boston Celtics.

Using their own personal social media accounts to get a message across is an increasingly popular practice among sports stars who want to communicate directly with their supporters without running the risk of having their message hijacked by a sub-editor’s dodgy headline or a less than flattering picture.

Known as ‘The Big Ticket’ for his 21-year legacy as one of the greatest defenders the sport has known – and his 6’11 frame, let’s not forget, Garnett deserved to bow out in whatever manner he saw fit; he has earned the right having almost single-handedly transforming the Timberwolves from a forlorn franchise into a regular play-off contender during his initial 12-season stay. The South Carolina-born star was equally successful in reviving the Boston Celtics as an eastern powerhouse, winning his only championship ring with them in 2008.

Garnett finished his NBA career as one of three players with 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 5,000 assists. The 40-year-old was also the NBA’s rebounding champion for four straight seasons from 2003-04 to 2006-07.

The numbers are equally impressive when applied to his social media traffic. With 208,000 Instagram followers, Garnett’s decision to quit, especially so close to the season’s start, definitely didn’t go unnoticed. Tributes poured in from his fellow athletes and fans alike sparking an emotional Garnett to reciprocate the felling of goodwill. “I’m just thankful for everybody and the love,” he posted.

But how keenly will Garnett’s absence be felt on the court? Will there be more chance of the Timberwolves dunking donuts or two-pointers during the 2016-17 season? Garnett concluded his Instagram message with some reassuring words for the team’s supporters, who are probably still struggling to contemplate a future without him being involved in some capacity.

“We going to be all right, man … I don’t expect this to be easy. But so far, so good. Stay tuned.”

The basketball betting odds certainly don’t sugar-coat what could be a difficult season – they are way down in the betting markets but with highly-rated characters like sophomore Karl-Anthony Towns ready to step up to the plate maybe it’s too early to write them off as easy-beats.

With Garnett and fellow long-serving legends Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan now retired, this could be the dawning of a new age for the NBA.

However, from a betting perspective old favourites are still in vogue, and it is with some justification that hat-trick seeking Western Champions Golden State Warriors start the season odds-on.

Firstly, they won’t lack for motivation, having become the first team in the competition’s history to lose a 3-1 lead in the NBA finals, and secondly the arrival of seven-time All-Star Kevin Durant can only add to their armoury.

With Steph Curry still in situ, the Warriors now have arguably the two sharpest-shooters in the west on their roster and there’s still time for punters to make a killing …