The Timberwolves have captured my interest many times this offseason. I’ll dig deeper into the organization in a later post at a later date, but let me just go through a few of the drama filled story lines that have taken over the Timberwolves offseason.
It all starts with David Kahn joking, or not, about the draft lottery. He said that the lottery was fixed and that’s why the Cavs got the #1 pick and not them. Then we move on about a month into the future, Ricky Rubio is finally about to come over from Spain. This will be his rookie year, whenever the next upcoming season starts. Then they created a lot of speculation with their second pick. They claimed that they were dealing the pick, they were taking Derrick Williams, they were taking Enes Kanter, even Jonas Valanciunas at times. No one knew what was going to happen. They eventually picked Williams #2 in the draft, but it was a, without a doubt, a wild path getting there. Next, and finally, the Timberwolves fired Kurt Rambis after weeks of speculation. There was no doubt in anyones mind that Rambis would be out, but the real question was when. Many people in many circles felt that Rambis was being disrepsected because of how long he was held hostage. He was finally fired and Kahn gave a wacky press conference about playing fast on both sides of the ball. That’s right ladies and gents, you can play defense fast now!
Now, put all that aside, and what interests me most about the Timberwolves is none other than Kevin Love.
I’m not really sure what he is. Not talking position, not talking role, but I’m talking player type. I know he’s a starter, I know he’s a pure power forward. Kind of an old school type of player with the way he rebounds; he now has the double double record in the NBA with 52 straight double double games. That’s a major accomplishment in the NBA, night in and night out working. Grabbing rebounds, fighting down low for the tough boards, scoring, getting second chance buckets. That’s a very, very difficult task. Doing it 52 times straight is almost unheard. Especially in this era with rebounding bigs like Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Andrew Bynum and others.
Another thing about Love that separates him from those other players I just named is that he has nowhere near the athleticism that they have, so grabbing these rebounds isn’t as easy for him. However, this forces me to ask this question. If he wasn’t on the T Wolves, would Love still have the star status that he has?
Kevin Love is a very smart, high IQ, basketball player. He knows when shots go up, what the trajectory will be when they come down, and how to grab rebounds. That’s how he put up monster numbers on the boards, especially offensive rebounds. He grabbed 4.5 offensive rebounds a game thanks to his knowledge of their plays that the Wolves ran, knowing how his team shoots the ball, and where the ball would fall at. Think about that, that’s an extra 5 possessions per game almost. In a close game those possessions will mean something, however, the Wolves didn’t have a lot of clsoe games.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were 17-65 to finish the season. Given that, how many of Kevin Love’s double doubles were just hollow stats? How many didn’t matter at all, were teams putting in players that were less skilled than Love and was he doing a lot of his work versus them? Why can’t Kevin Love lead his team to victories if he’s a top 20 guy, top 20 guys should win, right?
A lot of people ask those questions, and they absolutley have the right to. If I had the proper sources, I’d go back and find out what was going on, but I don’t. I do know what I can tell you, and that is that Kevin Love is the best rebounder in the game. Let’s start with that. He has alway been a great rebounder; previously, in the 2009-2010 season, Love put up about 11 rebounds a game in 28 minutes. That’s ane excellent rate for a 2 year pro. He only increased that this season to 15.2.
This season, Love had a total rebounding rate of 23.6. Kevin Love grabbed 24 percent of the possible rebounds on the floor, being on offense or defense. That’s almost 1/4 of the total rebounds that everyone can grab. He did that on his own. That’s a heavy load on a player, not to mention the 35 percent of rebounds on the defensive end of the floor. He was a cornerstone for his team, fighting for extra possessions for them so they can possibly score more points.
The one thing about Love, and why I think the Wolves don’t win, is that rebounding is, by far, his best skill. He isn’t really known as a scorer at his position. He scores about 20 points per game, which is plenty; however, he shoots about 47%. For a big, thats pretty disappointing. Especially being about 6’10. You should shoot at least 50% at that height with that body. I think he can improve in this area, but I’m using it as a flaw right now. He isn’t that good in the post up game, he’s a better face up player than post up player. He doesn’t get as deep as he should nor does he use his body like he should. When he could be getting about 24 to 25 points a game, he is only getting 20 points a game.
A plus is that he can step out and shoot the 3 ball. He is shooting about 45 percent from beyond the arch. That’s a skill set that many bigs don’t have, so he can shoot the lights out. However, he has trouble drawing fouls because of that. Over 50 percent of his shots are assisted on, so that means that more often than not, he isn’t creating his own shot. That’s not really a bad thing, but I’d look for that to go down to about 40 to 35 in the future.
I could be wrong though. With Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio coming in that could take scoring load off of Kevin Love. Rubio could spread the points around and Williams can be a scorer at the 3 position, which I’m assuming he is going to play. Love could stick to doing what he is best at which is rebounding.
For the Wolves to turn it around that scenario needs to happen. I think Kevin Love can be the centerpiece of that organization, but to do so he needs to improve scoring. What do you think? Is Kevin Love a superstar or is he just a starter?