Welcome to the third edition of Sportskeeda’s NBA TOP 20. We still have 10 spots to fill and we will now be looking at each player in the top 10 with more details and a piece dedicated to each of them by six of our finest NBA writers.
Kevin McHale: ”You knew he was going to be a good player, but you start talking about 25 [points] and 15 [rebounds]? C’mon now. There’s nobody in the draft … you see Dwight Howard in high school and you don’t see 25 and 15.”
Jeff Van Gundy: ”If Andrew Bynum was on a bad team and had the offense run through him like Kevin Love we would be talking about him as an all star every year.”
David Thorpe: “Love may lead the league in scoring and rebounding next year.”
He wasn’t supposed to be this good. His shortcomings were supposed to outweigh his abilities. Coming to the league as the 5th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, Love was a highly touted talent in high-school who went on to be one of the most prominent recruits in his college class. Successful he was, at every level he played before entering the big league because of his physical presence coupled with a polished touch around the basket and range. But doubts over how much of his success would translate to the highest level remained. A draft day trade involving eight players in which Memphis swapped Love’s rights for a certain OJ Mayo, ended up in bringing Love to the the land of thousand lakes. His was a certain low-risk, low-reward pick who everyone assumed would have a solid NBA career in front of him but none could envisage a star in the making.
Timberwolves’ Kevin Love believes himself to be the league’s best player in his position at Power Forward and he ends up as such in our Sportskeeda Top 20. That’s the mindset he says he requires to succeed at the highest level of the NBA. His play in the last couple of years has certainly made believers out of us as well. May be it’s time we believe him as well.
Going into his fifth year in the NBA, he has answered his critics, made a lot of guys look like fools and his exploits on the hardwood have transformed himself as the face of the Timberwolves franchise. His time in the Wolves uniform has been an epitome of self-amelioration and refinement. His play on the court has overshadowed all the weaknesses that existed. Even though he is not copiously athletic and not made for the highlight reels, his performances have dictated his status as a superstar and a perennial all-star for the foreseeable future.
Minnesota certainly loves their Kevins and the second coming of the kind now has the state wreathing in expectancy and anticipation for the upcoming season. Love ended last season as the fourth highest scorer(26.0 ppg) in the regular season while ending up as runner-up in the Rebounds/ game category(13.3 rpg) while having a shooting split of 45/37/82. With such displays he has nailed on his spot as the biggest inside-outside threat in the league.
The 30-30 game against New York was his coming out party. Last season he scored 30 or more points in 19 games and hit the 40-point mark three times.
Neither Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley, Chris Webber, Larry Bird nor Karl Malone ever averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds per game in the same season.
His game isn’t only limited to the paint. Love is a dangerous weapon beyond the three point line and this makes defending him a menace. Love is in fact 5.6% better from the left wing and 6.8% better from the right wing than the league average. Being able to stretch the floor like he can, he provides plentiful opportunities for cutters to be brought into the scheme of the offense with ease. One of his most potent weapons is the mid range jumper. His work in the high post can be termed as “decent”, but it has already seen some improvement. He already has an up and under, a step-back jumper and a jump hook.
The knocks against him will always be two things: His defense and inability of the Wolves to reach the playoffs:
- His defense is still an Achilles heel for him but that will never be his forte, but it won’t be for the lack of trying. He now has shed 30 pounds off his frame from his third year in the league and is still effective in getting his own in the paint. He is not a prolific shot blocker but he is just tremendous on the boards. He has an astonishing rate of gobbling up rebounds, thus denying the opposition second chance opportunities and securing possession for his team.
- The Wolves’ inability to reach the post-season was more a case for David Kahn’s inability to string together a roster that can function as a group, rather than Love’s ability to be effective enough. The Timberwolves average about 107 points per 100 possessions when Love plays and about 97 points per 100 when he sits (one of the highest discrepancies in the league).
With all said and done, this year is for Love to show that he means to win. His leadership abilities will be under the spotlight more than ever. He finally seems to have a good set of players around him in the form of Rubio, Pekovic,Kirlenko, Roy and Shved. Under the guidance of veteran coach rick Adelman, Wolves should now have everything required to be a part of the post-season.
Minnesotans have another special Kevin amongst them. Another talented and motivated Kevin is ready to take the mantle of being the Alpha Wolf. Love has now embraced close game situations, being the decisive factor with game-winning threes, free throws and other stuffs warranted at the clutch. He has been part of the growing pains and Minnesota is finally legit. When Minnesota finally make the post season next year it will be because Kevon Love wanted to win, it was finally HIS team.
Here is the countdown:
10. Kevin Love
You can catch the whole NBA Top 20 series here!