Player Analysis

Jazz 108, Wolves 98: Blank Slate

It was good to see our old friends in Los Angeles. Especially since we were looking our best.

The Wolves first nationally televised matchup in ages furthered a few story lines and revised a couple others. Kevin Love is indeed that good, Ricky Rubio is clearly ready for prime time, we aren’t pushovers anymore and maybe Darko isn’t such a bum after all. Of course we already knew this, but it was important that everyone else did too. Whatever degree of relevancy we’d attained through a bevy of highlights this season crept closer towards legitimacy with Friday’s win.

Which also brings expectations. However, they aren’t so lofty that we can’t see the truth. This was a winnable game. But it was also the fourth in five nights and it showed.

Kevin Love’s post game is progressing. He looked surprisingly comfortable with dropsteps and stepthroughs against the Clippers and even wiggled his way up and under early this evening. Though he remains undersized and earthbound, Love is slowly becoming crafty enough to maneuver the block against bigger defenders. Problem is, our young man has seemingly delayed this development and abandoned a reliable midrange game to cement his reputation as a sharpshooter.

Love is the league’s fifth leading scorer, a remarkable feat considering his aforementioned limitations. Even as his name is plainly posted below Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony with 24PPG, it’s still hard to believe. Yet perhaps more notable-and discouraging-is that he takes more three pointers than all of them. In fact, his 82 attempts this season are also amongst the league’s top ten. This is entirely too much.

Far be it from opponents to discourage him though. Especially if he’s not hurting them. Yes, he calmly sunk the one that counted Friday night, but respectfully, they all count and his percentage is sinking too. After a hot start, Love is shooting just 37% from the field in his last ten games. In order to remain effective, he has to use his entire repertoire.

Which brings us back to the original point. This was the Wolves fourth game in five nights and the second of back to back road games. Kevin was tired, as anyone would be. But when Kevin gets tired, he becomes predictable. A deeper look into the numbers reveals that on zero days rest, Love attempts even more threes per game (6.0) and makes considerably less (28%). So as he sluggishly trailed breaks and curled around screens this evening, there was no mystery how things would turn out: 7 attempts from long range and only one made the mark. 5-21 in a ten point loss.

Our pups have played six games with no rest this season and there are plenty more on the horizon with this truncated schedule. A few more off nights are to be expected. However, at the risk of callously conjuring up any talk of bootstrap pulling, this is a problem the entire league has to deal with.

Here’s hoping he figures it out.



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0 thoughts on “Jazz 108, Wolves 98: Blank Slate

  1. I agree with your post, but even with such a bad shooting night, I think what really killed the Wolves was the lack of intensity on the defensive boards, Utah scored tons of second chance opportunities at will. Anyhow, the future, imo, looks really bright: with the improvement of Wes Jonhson and the addition of JJ, Beas, Webster and perhaps 10-15 min a game by Miller, this squad has a shot to the eighth seed.

  2. Great post. I really hope the Wolves have a dedicated analyst/stat-man who can point things like this out to the team: when Kevin Love is tired, he shoots more 3s and makes fewer.
    I have a fear, though, that they have no such person, given their general manager David “analytics aren’t important for rebuilding teams” Kahn.

  3. Ok Im not saying now that K Love has his double double streak ended we should trade him, but if he doesnt sign an extension do they attempt to make a trade now that his value is, and never will be, as high as now? Maybe do like a Howard and a 1st rd pick for Love and say someone like Wes Johnson? I mean what happens if he refuses to sign an extension this year?

  4. Shawn,

    If he refused to sign an extension, we would still have to go through the restricted Free Agency process with him. He would have two options at the end of this season. Either A) Sign the one year restricted Free Agency tender so he could play out next year and become an unrestricted Free Agent -or- B) sign an offer sheet with another team in restricted Free Agency, and risk Minnesota matching it (they would).

    SO, worst case scenario is next year, not this year, being the last year with Love.

  5. I’m going to have to object to your logic.
    Shooting between 3-23 feet is the worst thing an NBA player can do.
    The NBA average for this range is somewhere in the mid-40%.
    Love would need to hit the mid-range jumper at a FAR higher percentage than he shoots from 3 point range to make up for the fact that a 3 is worth 50% more than a 2.
    Mid-range jumpers are for losing teams. Look at the Wolves, for instance. The greatest difference in their defense this year is that they are allowing far less shots at the rim and from 3 point range. They are “allowing” far more shots from 3-23 feet. Consequently, they have gone from one of the worst defenses in the league to top 10.

    The mid-range jumper is the most inefficient shot in the league.
    Leave it to the losers.

  6. That’s an interesting assertion, Kevin. And certainly well founded.

    But to clarify, I appreciate Kevin’s ability to shoot the three, however given his over reliance on them when he’s fatigued, it seems far less likely to make a longer/tougher shot. As I’ve shown the numbers also reflect this.

    Ultimately, I’d just like Kevin to mix up his repertoire to keep defenses honest and more importantly, find easier opportunities for himself when he’s tired/struggling.

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