Following a string of unfathomably humiliating losses, our Wolves played the two time defending champs down to the last minute in their own building. That should be encouraging.
But it’s not. It’ll only make things worse.
The cries from the uninformed and mercilessly unfunny will only grow louder after last night’s performance. Tired jokes will pour in, contextless stats will rain down and the truth will remain a stranger to the lot of us as the thoughtless credo becomes deafening.
Free Kevin Love.
The fact of the matter is that people like to make fun of this basketball team-specifically its management-at any given opportunity. And while we’ve certainly provided more than enough fodder for them, it must be made clear that this isn’t one of those times.
Last night Kevin Love became the only other Timberwolf besides Kevin Garnett to go for 20 points, 20 rebounds & 5 five assists with a magnificent 23,24 & 5 game that had the box score bursting at the seams. The problem is that everyone wants to treat him like Kevin Garnett, thus their concern with just one number, 38.
“See what happens when you give Love more minutes?!” goes the meme, with little regard for the point my partner just recently made (or the fact that Love is currently leading the team in minutes). The Wolves have hardly been suffering defeats, they’ve been binging on them, losing consecutive road games by 20, 32, 42 & 26 points. Should Kurt Rambis be more concerned with establishing some order amidst such chaos or placating his pseudo-star?
Yes, pseudo. One of the tougher assessments in this game is gauging the capabilities of a good player on a bad team. Are the stats a mirage or merely a preview of what he could do with better teammates? In the case of Kevin Love, I’d have to say, well….both.
Merely peering at Love’s box scores over coffee every morning would be enough to make you spit it out. “17.6 & 13.3 in only 28.4 minutes?! Good Lord, someone get this man a plane ticket out of there!” However, this seems to be the extent of such analysis. I have my doubts that many of those who have such fun mocking this team are actually watching it. For if they were, there’d also be an acknowledgment of Love’s shortcomings that lead to many of those trips to the bench.
Kevin is undersized, wide in the hips and not exactly fleet afoot. He has no lift, not much touch and is equally confounded in the post on both ends of the floor. He lacks defensive awareness and a reliable move with his back to the basket. Of course I’d be remiss to ignore his strengths; prodigious rebounding, impressive range and instinctive passing, however this is simply not enough to compensate for all the problems this unit has. The Wolves are playing the league’s fastest pace and are its most inefficient team. Surely there’s plenty of rebounds to be had, hence the league leading 46 per. But what is truly needed is a dependable scorer and true defensive presence. Kevin can’t provide that. He’s a complement, not a centerpiece.
Yet we’re still bombarded with the conventional wisdom that the best player on the team should be on the floor for 35 minutes per game.
If anything, all of the starters should be playing more so that we wouldn’t be subjected to empty five headed monsters such as Maurice Ager, Corey Brewer, Lazar Hayward, Anthony Tolliver & Kosta Koufos. As my other partner, Zach Harper, recently noted on the twitters, there is little reason to empty the bench in these blowout losses when we’re the leagues youngest team and all of our players need the experience. If they’re down 20+ in the fourth quarter, leave them in there to play for pride and to develop some cohesiveness. After Jonny Flynn and Martell Webster heal from their injuries and work their way back into the lineup, a rotation should be solidified and perhaps that will mean more minutes for our core players. Including our best player.
The only thing Kevin Love needs to be freed from is the unrealistic expectations of those who care more for wisecracks than his best interest. Let’s just give this some more time.
(No pun intended. I think…)