There is something to be said about an all around great player in today’s game. Over the last decade or so, too much emphasis has been placed on scoring and flash when discussing and ranking the league’s best players.
With scoring and highlight reel capabilities receiving most (if not all) of the media attention, the ability to rebound the basketball, see the court, play lock down defense and make those around you better have been overlooked and placed on the back burner. As Kevin Love continues to have a ground breaking season, it is time to start thinking of him as one of the elite all around players in today’s game.
Since the early 2000’s, NBA players have with out question become more athletic. Because of this, the game has become more free flowing, with an emphasis on fast break opportunities and above the rim play. As players begin to evolve into freakishly athletic specimens, the art of fundamental basketball has slowly made it’s way out of contemporary play. However, a handful of players have held onto the chess match style of play and are having much success in doing so.
At the forefront of the fundamental play movement is Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. Although slow, arguably boring to watch, and not as athletic as many other NBA superstars, Love has been dominating this year’s NBA season. Love has averaged 25 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game this regular season. In addition to a remarkable stat line, Love has also led Minnesota to a .500 record (12-12), finding themselves only two games back from a playoff berth.
Love has elevated his game to new heights this season . Heading into the 2013-14 regular season, Love has had a career average of 17.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. With an 8 point increase to his points per game column and nearly doubling his assists per game, Love has shown that he is capable of carrying much of the offensive load for the Timberwolves, while still controlling the glass.
Love has shown that his name should not only be leading this year’s MVP race, but also in the conversation of the top players in the game today. LeBron James has taken his throne as the best player in the world, and nobody will argue that. However, when comparing Love’s numbers this season to other high profile players, it seems as though he has been overlooked and greatly under appreciated. Averaging 6 rebounds a game more than Kevin Durant, and 1 point and 1 assist more than Paul George, Love has a clear statistical advantage over these top players. And as far as the power forward position is concerned, Love is one of the very few players to average double digit points and rebounds this season as well as his career.
Although he does not fly through the air for lob passes or run the fast break for easy buckets, Kevin Love has demonstrated a complete understanding and dominance of the half court game. He plays with the fundamental skills of a prime Tim Duncan and can dominate the paint much like a young Karl Malone. But the ultimate kicker in Love’s arsenal is his ability to shoot the ball from all areas on the court, making him a low post and perimeter threat, as well as stretching the defense to contest outside shots.
Overall, Kevin Love is, in my estimations, the next best all around player in today’s game next to King James. He may not captivate your attention, but will not go unnoticed as he continues to be a top scorer and lead the league in rebounding.