The Quietest Superstar in the NBA

If I were to ask you who the best power forward in the NBA is, who might you answer with? You may answer with Dirk Nowitzki, the reigning Finals MVP of the Dallas Mavericks. Maybe you respond with Chris Bosh the third amigo to the Miami Heat’s Big Three. Or maybe you would think of Pau Gasol the 2-time NBA champion for the Los Angeles Lakers. But what if I told you it was none of them. What if I told you that it was someone who has never even started an All-Star game or that he plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves? Would you believe me? Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the best power forward in the NBA is Kevin Love.

To understand Kevin Love’s greatness you have to understand his past. Attending Lake Oswego, he lead them to 3 state championships posting a career average of 26.8 points and 14.5 rebounds and becoming the all-time leading scorer in Oregon boys' basketball history with 2,628 points. After being named the 2007 Men’s Basketball Gatorade National Player of the Year, Love attended UCLA. Though lacking in physicality Love made up for a it with a high basketball IQ, averaging 17.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists a game, He would lead UCLA to a deep NCAA tournament run all the way to the Final Four, being named to the NCAA All-American First team along the way. It’s even more impressive when you consider the fact he was only a freshman. It was evident even in high school that Love was special, but what made him so refreshing was that he did it with an old-school hard-nosed toughness. He’d play every play with everything he had and it made him beloved at UCLA. On April 18, 2008 Love declared for the NBA Draft and was drafted 5th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies and in a draft day trade sending him to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In the NBA, Love has continued his evolution. Coming into the league, personnel questioned Love’s perceived lack of athleticism and limited size. They said that while he was a great college player, they didn’t believe his ceiling was all that high with a limited upside. In addition, many questioned whether his knees could hold up due to past knee problems. But Love put this all to rest with a solid, if unspectacular, rookie season averaging 11 points, 9 rebounds and 1 assist a game. He continued putting up solid numbers in his sophomore campaign upping his averages to 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Going into his 3rd season everyone thought Love was in store for a good career arc though nothing spectacular how wrong they would prove to be.

Finally given starter minutes at 35 minutes a game, Love responded with a breakout year averaging a robust 20.2 points, leading the league with 15.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists on his way to becoming the rebounding champ. But it’s more than that. Watching Love last year was like stepping into a time machine. His game is reminiscent of an old-school presence, using a high IQ and rugged work ethic to beat the opposition. He has become a guru at positioning on the block with an ability to ascertain rebound angles like no other player the NBA has ever seen.

But it’s more than that. Kevin Love is a unique player. Simply put, there has never been a player quite like him. Though he has a perceived lack of athleticism, he is a master at rebounding on the block. Though he plays a traditional frontcourt position he can go out wide and shoot the 3 at an efficient rate. Though he does not block many shots, he is terrific at defending the post. Though he does not take a high volume of shots, he gets to the line at a high rate. But it goes even further. Even though he plays for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in a decade, he made noise for getting his own line of cologne to raise his profile for the slam-dunk competition, and Won the 3 point shooting competition at this year's NBA All Star Jam in Orlando, FL.   Averaging 24.5 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2 assists a game Kevin Love has established himself as not only a dominant player in the NBA, but as a elite, top 10 player capable of leading a team to a championship.

All that praise aside, Love still has unlocked potential that is could take his game to greater heights and make for a bright future. He still struggles at guarding players on the perimeter, often looking lost and uncomfortable. In addition, despite being a good spot-up shooter, he is not very much of a shot creator. If he could learn how to take his man off the dribble, it would greatly help his partner in crime Ricky Rubio to open up the lane for other players. But the thing that could make Love a dangerous wingman would be for him to improve his game in transition. If he could learn how to run the floor and attack the basket while on the fast break I truly believe that Love could become not just one of the best in the game but one of the best to ever play his position. He is such a dominant rebounder that if he made these incremental improvements he would become one of the most efficient and dominant players the NBA has ever seen.

 

Any way you slice it, Love is among the truly elite. And at the ripe age of 23, he only has room to improve. Kevin Love is a great player who is deserving of his max contract and is the best at his position in the league. Its good to see that many are giving him the recognition he deserves.

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