W ith the Kevin Love trade to Cleveland likely a little more than a week away from becoming official, we spent two days reflecting on his Wolves career. On Thursday, we wrote about five things we’re going to miss about Love. Now, we’ll look at five things we won’t miss:
1 Body language: Whether it was giving teammates the cold shoulder after he didn’t like something they did or complaining to refs about a non-call (and then not hustling back on defense), Love’s body language game was not strong. Plenty of star players bristle at foul calls, but Love tended to do it with more frequency and to greater detriment than most.
2 The sense that he cared as much about his numbers as he did about winning: Perhaps this is an unfair assessment because nobody can climb into another person’s head to know just what motivates him or her. But there always was a nagging suspicion that Love paid greater attention to his own numbers than a lot of other players and looked to pad those stats with cheap rebounds or points.
3 The inability to elevate the team around him: Love appeared in 364 games with the Wolves, and their record in those games was 125-239 (.343 winning percentage). They were an even-worse 28-84 (.250) when he didn’t play during that span, but the basic premise in the NBA is that a star-caliber player should be able to elevate a team into playoff contention. Whether that’s on Love or the roster around him is debatable, and we should know a lot more about the answer when the Wolves are rebuilding and Love is trying to help the Cavaliers win.
4 Lack of interior defense: Love was one of the five worst power forwards or centers last season when it came to the shooting percentage of the players he guarded, per data from SportVU. Center Nikola Pekovic also was in the bottom five, so neither inside defender had help. Whether it’s a case of ability or indifference with Love, the question of defense will nag him if he continues to falter.
5 Having to hear constant rumors/speculation: This is last but not least. Love seemed to have a foot out the door for a while, particularly after the last contract process with former Wolves boss David Kahn. The question of “what’s going to happen” has been answered. He’s getting what he wants. The Wolves are getting a chance to start fresh. And nobody has to listen to the chatter any more.