Kevin Love was not robbed of a spot on the Western Conference All-Star squad. It is not a "travesty," as the outrageous Charles Barkley would have you believe. It most certainly wouldn't have been an outrage if Love made the team. He has great numbers. He is becoming a very well-rounded offensive player. But at the end of the day, we're not surprised. Nor are we mad. Plain and simple, the decision is probably a good one.
But let's back up: We love Love's game, particularly when it comes to scoring and rebounding. We love the way he attacks rebounds. We love his range. We've seen a 30-20 game in person this season. We really like his attitude. We enjoy -- very much -- the personality he has become. He is a player, and a person, that can help anchor a franchise.
However: He is a contributor to an 11-37 team. We mean that, negatively, in two ways. First, even though his 21/15 averages are great, and his double-double streak is impressive, he is doing a disproportionate amount of work because of the team's deficiencies. We're not saying he should necessarily be punished for that. But on a better team, he might be more like a 16/13 guy -- still a beast on the boards, still a guy that can hurt you a lot of ways on offense, but giving up a couple buckets and boards to a better supporting cast. And ... even though he's put up those huge numbers, he is part of a woeful defensive unit. He is, at best right now, an average defensive player (and that is being nice). If you are going to say that his PER is 6th in the NBA, we're going to counter by saying that's a stat which largely measures offense and almost ignores defense. When the Wolves are having a hard time closing out games, it's because they can't get a stop or a bucket when they need one the most. If Love is their best player, that's at least partially a reflection of him.
If you're going to argue that Tim Duncan shouldn't be in the game, you have a point numbers-wise.
But you are kidding yourself if you didn't think his coach would pick him. (Thanks to folks for pointing out we were misinformed here. All conference coaches had a say in picking the reserves). His days in the All-Star game are numbered as a Hall of Fame career winds down. But this wasn't the year his run was going to end. And we would also mention that two big men who also weren't chosen but could have been -- Zach Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge -- have eaten the Wolves (and Love) for lunch recently. We'd take Aldridge before Love; we'd take Love before Randolph.
Intangibly speaking, we can't shake the feeling that Love is somewhat of a numbers-chaser -- that every time he snatches a rebound down (sometimes comically fighting a teammate for it), he is making a mental check mark. He seems very conscious of his double-double streak. He should be proud of it, but ultimately it doesn't really matter. Again, we could be wrong about this. Maybe the numbers just pile up in the flow and we're missing something. It's just a feeling we get from watching him play.
It doesn't feel good to deconstruct Love because we really do like him. It's just that when we strip down the shiny numbers, we just don't see an All-Star snub -- or an All-Star. Yet. In the long-run, this could be a very good thing for the Wolves. Even if it might have been a temporary shot in the arm for the franchise, this might push Love to even greater heights. With big numbers -- and big wins -- maybe we'll see the big guy in the 2012 game.