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Continued: Souhan: Is Love or Garnett the Wolves' best ever? It's still early

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 5, 2014 - 6:08 AM

If you sat courtside, you would hear a torrent of profanity from Garnett, and you would see Love constantly complaining to referees — understandable, since he might be the best player in the NBA who doesn’t seem to get the benefit of the doubt on borderline calls.

• The most difficult aspect of this comparison is judging how their teams have fared with them as leaders.

Garnett took a good team to the conference finals and kept lousy teams competitive through sheer will. Love has never played on a winning NBA team, in part because the Wolves traded Garnett for little value and then hired the Master of Disaster, David Kahn.

The verdict:

At 25, Love has already become a far more versatile and polished offensive player than Garnett ever was, even though Garnett, in his prime, managed to score 22 to 24 points a game.

Love will never match Garnett’s defensive skill or intensity, nor should he, because the Wolves can’t afford to have him in foul trouble.

In 12 seasons with the Wolves, Garnett averaged 20.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. In five-plus seasons with the Wolves, Love is averaging 18.9 and 12.3, while promising to improve those totals.

Has the latter Kevin Franchise caught the former Kevin Franchise?

Not yet. Garnett was too dominant for too long to be replaced by someone in the midst of only his third season of excellence.

If Love decided to stay with the Wolves through another contract, and kept improving his offensive repertoire, he would eventually surpass Garnett to become the best scorer and rebounder, and perhaps the best player, in franchise history.

To ignore that possibility is to ignore Love’s progression from pudgy, one-dimensional rookie to NBA superstar, a progression that has never been more evident than in the last month.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

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