Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kevin Love's Historic Season

Kevin Love has transformed his body, and has
become one of the best power forwards in the NBA.
Kevin Love ties Moses Malone with 50 consecutive double-doubles.

Kevin Love has made drastic improvements over his 3 year NBA career.  He was the number one high-school recruit in the country in 2007.  He decided to snub his fathers alma-mater, Oregon, and pave his new path at UCLA.  He had a productive freshman season there and decided to try his luck in the NBA Draft.  Scouts had their concerns about his size and athleticism.  Chad Ford wrote,

 "Lacks ideal size for a center. Not a great athlete. Plays below the rim due to a lack of explosive leaping ability. Lacks lateral quickness, making it difficult for him to guard on the perimeter. Has conditioning issues. Has had knee problems in the past. Is he just a more skilled version of Tyler Hansbrough?"

These concerns did not hurt Love as he was drafted 5th overall by Memphis, and was immediately traded to Minnesota for O.J. Mayo.

In his first season he had a decent rookie campaign in limited minutes.  He played only 25 minutes per game, but played in 81 of 82 games.  He averaged 11 points and 9 rebounds that season.  He also transformed his body during that season.  He came into the league as a 6'10, kind of chubby, power-forward.

Since then he has slimmed down, really worked on his conditioning and athleticism.  He had added a lot of muscle to his frame and now weighs 260 lbs.  This physical improvement allowed him to continue to improve in his second year, averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds per game while still only playing around 25 minutes per game.

Something has happened this year, he continued to work on his body and conditioning, but after a summer on the world championship team he has come back as a new player.  He is averaging 21 points and 16 rebounds per game.  He is also averaging 42% from the 3 point line, which has improved from 10% his rookie year.  He is still bothered at times by longer defenders but he knows how to use his body to create space.  He uses his high IQ to position himself around the hoop, and he has to be one of the best players in the league when it comes to a text-book block out.

This season he has had some historic achievements, last night he tied Moses Malone with 50 straight double-doubles.  During the whole season he has only had 5 games where he did not produce a double-double, and all of those games came in October.  This shows that he is actually improving as the year goes on.  Teams have to plan for Love now, as the Wolves don't have much else to plan against.  Even though other teams know what he is going to do, it is rare that they stop him.

He also was the first player to post a 30-30 game since Charles Barkley.  A lot of critics say that his stats are diminished because he is playing on once of the worst teams in the league, and that many of his stats come in garbage time in the back end of blow outs.  I don't think that this is even close to being relevant. Sure, he might not get the kind of stats he is getting now if he was on the Thunder, Heat, Spurs, etc.. But he would still average 15 boards a game, he would still stretch the D all the way out to the 3 point line, and he would still play with the heart he has shown in Minnesota.

Also, throughout the years there have been many teams that have been much worse that Minnesota is this year, and there have been many talented players stuck on these team.  You will be hard-pressed to find a player that has produced like Love has.  I believe that we should not spend time criticizing how Love gets his stats and just appreciate what this guy is doing every night.  If everyone played with the intangibles and heart that Love plays with the NBA would be a better league.

30-30 game

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