Does Kevin Love Hurt Your Fantasy Team?

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On the surface, there’s really no denying that the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t gotten exactly what they wanted out of the Kevin Love trade. They gave up a potential future superstar in Andrew Wiggins for what could easily amount to a one-year rental of a volume scoring power forward. He simply isn’t playing his best ball. More than that, Love is supposed to be a key piece to a win-now title contender and we’ve heard all season long (from LeBron James, even) is that he can’t fit in.

Considering Chris Bosh was able to “fit in” and help the Miami Heat get to the NBA Finals right away in his first year after the “Heatles” became a thing, fans and analysts may be right to come down on Love a bit for his inability to find his role. Does that also apply to the fantasy basketball realm?

There is definitely room in Love’s 2014-15 season for analysis and questioning, but we probably have to factor in various aspects to grade him properly. Let’s break it down and try to figure out if Love is just a disappointment on the surface or if fantasy owners really got screwed over in the long run:

Warning Label

The big thing fantasy owners need to remember is that few were promoting Love as a top shelf fantasy option for the 2014-15 season. We all still expecting him to threaten for around 20 points per game and averaging a double-double was probably in the cards. We hoped for the usual percentages, too. However, not many people came out right away saying he was some stud player like he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Love was naturally going to see far less shots just by glancing at the paper, which would naturally negatively impact his upside in fantasy basketball. He’s normally a pretty efficient player, and he can stroke it so fantasy owners seem to have ignored this a little, though, as Love remained an early round pick. His dominance with the T’Wolves begged for that consideration, but sliding him into the role that Chris Bosh found himself in should have been a key warning sign.

Of course, some refused to believe Love was going to be third fiddle to LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. That assumption turned out to be wrong and if you banked on Love coming anywhere near his Minnesota production or even the high-end numbers Dwyane Wade produced when he was at his best with that group, you were not too happy with what you got. In that light, Love has absolutely been a gigantic disappointment.

Numbers Comparison

Of course, just as it’s pretty clear from that angle, it works the other way, too. Love basically was coming in as Cleveland’s version of Bosh – an efficient big man who can clean the glass, shoot from outside and draw the defense out of the paint. He’s been able to do all of that quite well, while averaging just under 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2.3 dimes per game. His numbers have dipped a bit, too, so fantasy owners actually were getting much more production out of a healthier Love earlier in the year.

If you were one of the guys that knew Love was the Bosh on this team and lowered your expectations, you can’t be too shocked or overly disappointed with what he’s done for you. Bosh put up nearly identical numbers in his first season in South Beach (18.7 points, 8.3 boards and 1.9 assists per contest).

Bosh was the better scorer, but Love was matching that points per game average earlier in the year, while naturally crushing Bosh on the boards and topping him slightly in assists. Fantasy owners would have liked more out of Love in terms of consistency and efficiency throughout the year, but if they planned for Chris Bosh-type production, they got about what they paid for. In that sense, Love hasn’t been a disappointment. He’s just been who we probably should have thought he would be.

Health and Confidence

You can make an argument for or against Love. It largely hinges on what your expectations for him were. One other huge aspect is his mental and physical health, which regardless of what side of the fence you’re on, clearly has had an impact on how he’s performed.

Love has visibly been worn down by the outside media, lingering injuries (specifically his back) and even his own teammates (King James called him out). Through it all, it’s fair to say he’s done an admirable job trying to fit in and help the Cavs win. Ultimately, Cleveland appears to be one of the better teams in the league and when it’s all said and done they could help get Love his first NBA title. Of course, fantasy basketball owners will only remember that year they drafted the once beastly fantasy option that was Kevin Love, only to have him sack them into oblivion.

So, yes, Kevin Love has been a disappointment in fantasy basketball this year. But we probably should have seen it coming.

Justin Becker

@NBAFantasyInfo

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