OK, it’s starting to get ridiculous. I am about to lose my mind most nights when the Minnesota Timberwolves. I don’t know how I can even talk basketball with anyone anymore, but I still do. I am starting to convince myself that I have created a monster. I never expected it to end up like this, but I would rather have it happen like this because he plays for my hometown team and it enhances my reputation, ha.
But it’s just sick. How good is Kevin Love? Well, the answer is simple: GREAT. He has taken his game to an entirely new level, with many unseen performances, hard work, count-less hours in the weight or yoga room, and of course, hours and hours of gym time.
After his 51/14 performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder, followed by a 30/21 game today against the Denver Nuggets, Love is averaging 26.3 ppg (4th) and 13.8 rpg (2nd). Not to mention he shoots 38% from three, 81.6% from the line, and he leads the league with 42 double-doubles. But it’s not just about his outrageous numbers; it’s about what he doing when it matters the most.
Love is averaging 8 points in the fourth quarter and overtime this season. He is getting to job done when it matters most. He has hit game-winning shots against the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers. A home game against the Clippers (for the second time), he came up with two big baskets in the closing minutes, another Timberwolves win. According to basketball reference.com (a great website), Love has won 28 matchups against opposing power forwards this season while only losing seven matchups and earning a draw in 10 of them. Some of the power forwards he out-played include the likes of Pau Gasol (twice), LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin (twice), Dirk Nowitzki (twice), and Chris Bosh.
Including today’s game, Love has three 30-20 games, eight 30-15 games, 16 30-point games, one 40-point game, and one 50-point game this season. The Timberwolves are 10-8 when Love scores 30 points or more this season.
Since he entered the league, a lot of people including myself, didn’t think Love would amount to anything more than a 15-10 type of guy. He could always rebound, but offensively he wasn’t quick enough to go by defenders consistently and his jumper was inconsistent. Defensively, he couldn’t guard anyone because he wasn’t (and still isn’t) the most athletic or agile player. Some even thought that he was a bit over-weight.
In his second season, he managed to average 14 and 11, but that was nothing special. Special comes in his third season when Love averaged 20 and 15, including 30-30 game against the New York Knicks. He had many games where he hit five 3-pointers in a game while grabbing 15 boards in the same game. He was awarded the NBA’s “Most Improved Player” and everyone in Minnesota thought that if he could even come close to putting another season like that again, it would be a surprise.
Has a player ever won two “Most Improved Player” awards? It might happen this year.
All jokes aside, Love is absolutely unconscious. Check out some of his ranks throughout the league in key categories:
First in Free-Throws Made
Second in Efficiency Recap
Second in Rebounds
Second in Defensive Rebounds
Second in Free-Throw Attempts
Fourth in Points
Fourth in Offensive Rebounds
Seventh in Field-Goals Made.
He also ranks highly in three-points made, attempted, percentage, and is first in minutes per game.
Is he an MVP candidate? Yes. I will go so far as to say that Love is a Top 3 player in this league behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James. I am not here to disrespect Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, or Kobe Bryant, but Love is having a better season than all of them. Flat-out, Love has been nothing short of amazing and comes up big when it matters unlike LeBron, but LeBron is having such a good season that I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
I watched Love and Durant go at it on Friday night and it was the most-compelling, entertaining, and thrilling game I have seen in a long while. Despite Love taking the L, he went for 51 points on only 27 shots and Durant went for 40-plus.
I know all these outrageous numbers don’t mean anything if they don’t win, but it has to be a sign of good things to come.
People said that Love would never be a franchise-player. He is.
People said that Love isn’t a crunch-time player. He is.
People said that Love wouldn’t amount too much in the NBA. 26 and 14.
People believe that Love’s 2010-2011 season was a fluke. It’s not.
Does Love need to take this to the playoffs? Certainly, that’s the only thing he needs to do now. And good thing he has some help. Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio (even though he is out), and head coach Rick Adelman have made things simpler for Love. Do they need to add another piece or two? Yes, they most certainly do. But I love what I am seeing and since Rubio has gone down, the Wolves have been hanging around for the last playoff spot.
If the Wolves make the playoffs this season, it will be because of one man and one man only: Kevin Love.