With the Kevin Love trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers likely a little more than a week away from becoming official, we’re spending the next two days reflecting on his Timberwolves career. First, we’ll look at five things we’re going to miss about Love. On Friday, we’ll look at five things we won’t miss.
1 Stats machine: The sheer numbers Love put up in his time with the Wolves were ridiculous. He had two seasons, including 2013-14, in which he averaged at least 26 points and 12 rebounds. He made 190 three-pointers last year, a ridiculous number for a power forward, and he upped his overall game by vaulting to 4.4 assists per game, easily bettering his previous best of 2.5. And his 31-point, 31-rebound game in 2010 remains a statistical marvel.
2 Willingness and desire to take big shots: If the main critique of Kevin Garnett was that he shied away from taking big shots in crunch time, the same could not be said of the second Kevin. Love was more than willing to have the ball in his hands when the game was on the line. His buzzer-beating three-pointer against the Clippers during the 2011-12 season remains an iconic moment and image, with Love’s arms spread out as his teammates rushed behind him to celebrate.
3 Outlet passes: Occasionally they were ill-advised, but usually those fingertip passes after Love snatched away yet another rebound were a thing of beauty. If there was one constant source of joy during a frustrating 2013-14 season for the Wolves, it was Love firing those bullet outlet passes, often times with Corey Brewer running underneath them for an easy layup or dunk. As teams grew wise to the ploy, Love had to get even more precise — and he did. It’s an unusual, wonderful skill.
4 Genuine hope: For as much complaining as we did about the 2013-14 season, it did foster real hope that the Wolves might turn the corner. They won 40 games — the most by far since the 2004-05 season — and might have had a different fate had they been better in close games or weren’t stacked up in the brutal Western Conference. The Wolves had their best roster in a long time last season, and Love was at the forefront of it.
5 Early days when he interacted with fans: A lot of Wolves fans lost interest in Love when he lost interest in Minnesota, so it’s easy to forget that there was a … am I going to do it? … love affair for a while that seemed mutual. He would post about giveaways on social media and meet up with fans in random spots in the city.