Loving Kevin

I want to talk about Kevin Love. For those of you that read my Team USA post, you know that I am a big fan of Kevin Love. Truth be known, I like many players from the 2008 NBA draft – Mike Beasley, O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Jerryd Bayless, Anthony Randolph…the list goes on. I actually think it’s one of the better overall drafts in NBA history in terms of first-round talent (and cannot for the life of me understand why the ’08 crop were only the third sophomore team and first since 2002 to lose to the rookie team at All-Star weekend)…but I digress.

The point is…Kevin Love is a beast. Or, he should be. For some reason, Timberwolves head man Kurt Rambis decided it would be in his team’s best interests for Love to come off the bench and play only 28 minutes per game. In the best interests of what, you ask? I don’t know, losing maybe? A higher draft pick? Maybe it’s just unfortunate for Love that he isn’t a point guard. Anyway.

Love is a complete package. He can score in the post and from mid-range, he can pass (his outlet passes are a thing of beauty) and he can rebound the basketball. Man, can he rebound. According to basketball-reference.com, Love rebounds the ball 13.3 times per 36 minutes, which is more than Dwight Howard’s 12.8 per 36 minutes. Not convinced that Love is an elite rebounder? Last season, Love grabbed 21.5% of available rebounds while he was on the floor, compared to Dwight’s 22%. I have no doubt that if Love had been given the minutes he deserved he would have been a top-5 rebounder, easily.

So why am I having a Kevin Love-fest (see what I did there?)? Mainly because I was reading this article on NBA.com talking about players that are, for whatever reason, under a degree of pressure in the coming season. The whole paragraph about Kevin Love made me angry. Is he a role player or potential star? What kind of question is that? Of course he’s a star. Statistically, he compares to the star big man in the game, not to mention that he’s personable and charismatic. It’s mentioned that he’s skilled, but not particularly strong or athletic. Um, what? So he’s not athletic because he’s a white guy? Because according to his DraftExpress profile, he has a max vert of 35 inches, bench pressed 18 times and does a ¾ court sprint in 3.22 seconds. Compare these numbers to, say, Al Horford, who we’d all agree is quite athletic, and you’ll find Horford’s numbers are 35.5, 20 and 3.37, respectively. Just because Love plays below the rim, doesn’t mean he can’t play above it. It just means he doesn’t. At least the paragraph ends by saying he could be the face of the franchise. Nah, really?

Anyway, here’s hoping that in the coming season, Rambis realises what he really has on his hands, starts Love and gives him the minutes he deserved. Love, along with Corey Brewer, Jonny Flynn, the newcomer Wesley Johnson and now Michael Beasley give Minnesota a young, talented core to build around – hopefully they can pull it together and start winning some ballgames. Lord knows their long-suffering fans deserve it.

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