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

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

Wolves forward Kevin Love has come a long way from his rookie season.

With step-back threes, running bank shots, post-up spins and step-throughs, and the occasional baby hook, Kevin Love has prompted an impertinent question about our local basketball franchise:

Is He Who May Leave Devastation in His Wake challenging He Who Left Devastation in His Wake in the sparsely populated competition to become the best player in Wolves history?

Kevin Love has never been better than he is right now, and he keeps hinting, with his ever-increasing array of offensive moves and startling performances, that one of the most dramatic transformations we’ve ever seen in a local athlete is not complete.

With another remarkable month, Love has closed the gap on Kevin Garnett.

Has KLove caught KG?

• The two best decisions Kevin McHale ever made are similar in terms of surpassing expectations.

Love was the fifth pick in the 2008 draft, when Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley were the two supposed stars. The Wolves drafted O.J. Mayo third and traded him in a multiplayer deal to the Grizzlies for Love, causing Wolves fans and at least one member of the front office to rage against another apparent draft-day mistake.

Garnett was the fifth pick in a weak 1995 draft that saw Joe Smith go first and Bryant Reeves go sixth. He was a risk at a time when NBA teams were wary of selecting high school players.

• They’re virtual opposites in style.

Love has developed an array of offensive moves and shots that is remindful of his idol, Larry Bird. He’s averaging 26.6 points and 13.2 rebounds this season, while improving his passing and defense.

Garnett was a dominant defender. In his best season he averaged 24.2 points and 13.9 rebounds. Garnett was the more productive passer.

Garnett gets the edge on the defensive end, but he lacked Love’s offensive creativity. When Garnett took a big shot, he usually opted for a fadeaway jumper, a difficult shot that erased the chances of him drawing a foul. When Love takes a big shot, he usually squares up for a three-pointer or creates contact in an attempt to get three the old-fashioned way.

• Garnett was and Love will be a perennial All-Star.

Garnett won one MVP award in 2003-04 and another defensive player of the year award. Love, competing with LeBron James and Kevin Durant, might never win the former and certainly won’t win the latter.

• Both excelled because of work ethic.

Garnett’s competitiveness drove the franchise. He was relentless in games and practices and he developed from a raw player into a superstar.

Love’s persona doesn’t dominate the court or the franchise the way Garnett’s did, and he doesn’t seem to command the fear or respect from his teammates that Garnett did, but he has transformed himself from a rookie who didn’t shoot three-pointers and couldn’t finish near the rim into a brilliant player.

• Their on-court personas are dramatically different.

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

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 0 1st Qtr 12:15
Atlanta 0
Detroit 0 1st Qtr 12:45
Green Bay 0
Oakland 0 1st Qtr 13:20
Denver 0
Arizona 0 1st Qtr 12:58
San Francisco 0
St. Louis 0 1st Qtr 14:26
Seattle 0
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Detroit 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Houston 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 6:30 PM
Dallas
New York 8:00 PM
Portland
Toronto 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4:00 PM
Florida
Vancouver 7:00 PM
Anaheim
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
NJIT 71 FINAL
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
UMKC 68 2nd OT 0:21
Indiana State 66
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 41 2nd Half 5:32
Army 88
Thomas (GA) 34 2nd Half 13:42
High Point 52
Texas Southern 38 2nd Half 12:01
Kansas State 34
Rutgers 40 2nd Half 11:46
Monmouth 44
NC Wesleyan 39 2nd Half 9:02
NC A&T 43
South Dakota St 47 2nd Half 9:44
Northern Iowa 56
Central Penn College 40 2nd Half 14:19
Radford 81
Bowling Green 53 2nd Half 11:02
South Florida 46
Harris-Stowe 55 2nd Half 6:31
SE Missouri St 74
Robert Morris-IL 48 2nd Half 7:52
SIU Edwardsville 85
Northland College 52 2nd Half 6:30
North Dakota St 67
Milwaukee 44 2nd Half 7:50
South Dakota 62
Northwestern St 39 2nd Half
Arkansas 48
Saint Peters 9 1st Half 5:11
Cornell 9
St Katherine 19 1st Half 10:26
Fresno State 25
Haskell 9 1st Half 11:16
Oral Roberts 17
Wake Forest 22 1st Half 7:39
Richmond 17
Fla Gulf Coast 11 1st Half 10:57
Xavier 19
SD Christian 9 1st Half 8:14
Northern Ariz 28
Judson 3:30 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Ill-Chicago 4:00 PM
Bradley
Loyola-Maryland 4:00 PM
Fairfield
Miss Valley St 4:00 PM
Houston
Lehigh 4:00 PM
UMBC
Delaware State 4:00 PM
Temple
Belmont 5:00 PM
Butler
Howard 5:00 PM
Fordham
NW Christian 5:00 PM
Nevada
UC Davis 5:00 PM
Washington St
Abilene Christian 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UCLA 5:30 PM
Alabama
Stony Brook 7:00 PM
Washington
Buffalo 7:00 PM
Wisconsin
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
California
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 30 2nd Half 17:15
LSU 44
Denver 49 2nd Half 7:49
North Texas 40
VA Commonwealth 51 2nd Half 10:47
Coppin State 41
Huston-Tillotson 22 2nd Half 7:15
Houston Baptist 70
Lamar 45 2nd Half 10:33
Rice 66
Miss Valley St 34 2nd Half 9:15
Alabama 54
Saint Louis 47 2nd Half 8:46
Eastern Illinois 31
Middle Tennessee 73 2nd Half 7:56
Tenn Tech 55
Penn State 34 2nd Half 12:47
(23) Iowa 52
Purdue 43 2nd Half 9:32
Illinois 37
DePaul 83 2nd Half 11:12
Illinois State 43
Sam Houston St 28 2nd Half 10:24
Wichita State 52
South Dakota 37 2nd Half
TX-San Antonio 32
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
CS-Northridge
(4) Notre Dame 20 1st Half 9:31
UCLA 16
Coll of Charleston 13 1st Half 7:00
SC State 19
Alcorn State 10 1st Half 8:17
Texas-El Paso 11
Dartmouth 22 1st Half 7:52
Niagara 16
Colgate 0 1st Half 20:00
Siena 0
Michigan 9 1st Half 8:48
Wisconsin 20
Yale 3:30 PM
(25) Arizona State
UC Santa Barbara 4:00 PM
(16) Stanford
Long Island 4:00 PM
Long Beach St
Jackson State 4:00 PM
Louisiana
Eureka 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Cornell 5:00 PM
(22) Syracuse
Temple 7:30 PM
Memphis
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close