Sunday, July 20, 2008
What's not to Kevin?
I feel like in talking about the draft and such things with friends etc. Kevin Love is constantly being overlooked and underestimated. I'm not going to go into the Mayo for Love deal or anything of this sort but I do feel like Love can/will flourish in Minny given their current roster construction. I think that this kid is going to be a really special player. While I can't see Beastley not winning ROY honors this year, I do think Love will have a standout rookie campaign. I'm going to get into Love's game and how good I think he will be, which is very.
Offense: I think that Love will be (not now, but soon) a 20/10 guy in the NBA. Offensively, his game is very unique for guys his size and one that I find it difficult to draw comparisons to. He looks a bit like a combination of Brad Miller and Carlos Boozer to me, sort of, I don't know, maybe, whatever. At 6'10", he will slide into the front court with Al Jefferson this season for Minny where he will have the benefit of being the second option down low and thus gaining the attention of the opposing teams weaker defender. He has very good range for a guy his size; he can consistently knock down a mid-range jumper. At his size, 4s and 5s will have difficulty guarding him as he faces up to the basket from 18+ feet where he is very comfortable. His post up game is also pretty good, surely he will improve it, so he can be a similar threat with his back to the basket. Practicing every day with Al Jefferson will be tremendously helpful to Love's offensive game, and most importantly, his post up game. He will log heavy minutes this season for a Minny front court that is pretty underwhelming. Craig Smith is really the only other big guy they have who figures to be in their rotation. I really like his scoring ability and I think that he will average 20 ppg in this league once he gets a year or two under his belt. Offensively, the other thing that really stands out to me, is Love's passing ability. His basketball IQ, as has been touted for a long time, is through the roof. He has tremendous court vision and is great at passing out of the post hitting cutters for lay-ups. When he is facing the basket he is always a threat to shoot, drive, or pass, something that few guys his size can boast. He will get his fair share of dimes for a big guy. He is not athletic and his offensive game is not very exciting. He's a smart kid who knows what his strengths are and offensively, I believe he will grow to be a force.
Defense: Love is pretty vulnerable on the defensive end this year. He showed difficulty at UCLA defending guys his size who were more agile and athletic; in other words, pretty much every power forward in the NBA. At 6'10", he is best suited to play the 4 in the NBA, but with Al Jefferson also at 6'10" he might be forced to play center a bit. Jefferson was a below average defender at the 5 last season for Minny and coupled with Love down low, they will have a pretty bad front court defense when these two are on the floor together. Love will probably never average 1+ steal or block per game but I do believe that he will be an average defender as he progresses. He has size, and although he is not very athletic, his basketball IQ will allow him to make adjustments on the defensive end of the floor that will play to his advantage. He looks like he can put on more muscle/convert body fat to muscle as he hits the weight room harder now in the NBA. He has good toughness and coupled with his size and smarts, I think he will be fine on D. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to rebound the basketball on the defensive end. He will, without a doubt in my mind, average 10+ rebounds per game given starters minutes. His athleticism does not lend itself for him to be a great offensive rebounder, but he actually boxes out his man on D when the ball goes up and he is great at positioning himself to grab the board. He has a nose for the ball like a Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman and shows a similar willingness to play physically and bang down low to grab the rebound. The other thing that Love does better than probably anyone else in the game even as a rookie is outlet passing. Off of defensive rebounds he never, actually never, brings the ball below his head unless he is being harassed. He pivots out and immediately looks to outlet it to the guards streaking down the sideline. He has an uncanny ability to gun outlet passes to hit his guards in stride to get the fast break going. I have never seen a player with his outlet passing ability, he looks like a QB as he often guns outlet passes off defensive rebs.
I feel like Love has a lot of intangibles, coupled with great skill, that will allow him to flourish in the NBA. His basketball IQ, to me, will allow him to cope for his athletic shortcomings. Of all the rookies this year, besides Gallinari, I am most excited to see the numbers Love puts up. I really liked him in UCLA and I think he is great fit in Minnesota. At 6'10", he has the ability to excel in so many facets of the game that others his size cannot do.