Kevin Love: Young/Improving

Benjamin Polk —  April 22, 2011 — 5 Comments

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Photo by Akakumo

It’s official, friends. Kevin Love is the Most Improved Player in this NBA. So that’s cool. This from the Wolves:

The league’s leading rebounder at 15.2 boards per game, Love tallied 20 or more rebounds on 13 occasions and recorded 11 games with 20+ points/20+ rebounds (after doing so once in his previous two seasons combined). Love had four 20/20 games during November and three consecutive 20/20s in March, both feats that hadn’t been accomplished since Kevin Willis did so during the 1991-92 season. With his 31-point/31-rebound performance in a win over New York on Nov. 12, Love became just the 19th player in NBA history to post a 30/30 gameā€”and the first since Moses Malone in 1982.

And all this from a guy who wasn’t even a starter for most of last season. As you all know, Love didn’t just stuff the traditional per game box score stats either. His PER is up from 20.7 in ’09/’10 to 24.3 this year. He grabbed 23.6% of all available rebounds, up from 21.5% last year. Most impressively, his true shooting percentage jumped from .549 to .593 this season. So he Improved a lot.

As if that weren’t enough, according to Dave Berri and the Wages of Wins, Love actually led the league in Wins Produced this year, the irony of which is hilarious if you think about it for a second. Love’s story is easily the happiest aspect of an unhappy season. But with the Wolves every silver lining has its cloud. And here it is: nobody knows what the next CBA will bring, but it seems almost certain that in order to keep Love, by far the team’s best and most popular player since KG, in the fold, they’ll have to offer him a max extension in the next year.

And that would be tough, because the Wolves would then have a max contract on the books and would still be lacking both a true first-option scorer and an elite NBA defender. Love’s award and his impending plunge into stardom beg some of the game’s most fascinating current questions. Just how valuable to a team is one individual’s rebounding? Is it wise to pay so dearly for a player who is not a true scorer (not to denigrate Love’s shooting proficiency, his ability to get to the line, or his much improved post game)? Is it possible to build an NBA-caliber defense around a sub-mediocre defender?

Benjamin Polk

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5 responses to Kevin Love: Young/Improving

  1. His minutes went up substantially and his playing time was consistent. No thanks to our idiotic Front Office.

  2. They definitely need to offer him a max extension, it would be idiotic to let such a potential packed player go just because he isn’t a true scorer. He does so much more than what his stats suggest, he’s a hard worker, and I believe the future of the timberwolves depends on having him stick with the team, like he has said he wants to.
    Despite the dismal season, he single-handedly bought the timberwolves a helluva lot of positive media attention this season. That’s saying alot.

  3. True, he’s not a superstar yet but I believe he can still improve. He will not become an elite defender but he certainly can get better on both the offense and the defense because he is such a hard worker. Recently D-Rose said he trains with him and Westbrook at LA every summer and that he runs all the guard drills just to get better and quicker and that he was really impressed with him. Sign him to a max deal. It will be much more stupid to just lose him. He seems to be a great guy and can glue together a good team.

  4. pagingstanleyroberts April 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I think they have to consider Love as a LaMarcus Aldridge/Rajon Rondo-level player and give him a contract that’s to what they got. Maybe the CBA makes that easier, but this guy’s value is very high at this point, so it’s possible that they get equal value for him in a trade if that’s necessary. Either way, they have 2 years to figure this out, and the D-Will and ‘Melo trades imply that a team can get good value for a player even when they don’t have great leverage.

  5. This is just his first leap forward. Love is smart and knows what he needs to work on. He is worth the money because he plays hard, wants to win, and is willing to work to get it. That also makes him a leader in the locker room. I don’t see how you just trade a 20/15 guy and expect to get something worth more back. I don’t see comprable level of Talent coming here in a trade involving Love. Hopefully he gets in Wes’s ear this summer and get’s him working on his game and the 2 form a bond. Maybe even Beasley sees what a summer of learning and improving can do and he becomes a better scorer (with out all the wasted shots) and defender his size and ability suggest. If there are a high number of other teams that would jump at the chance to take Love from us why would we let him go if he was willing to stay.?

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