Love will be in the air tonight. But what if it wasn’t?
What if the Cavaliers never did trade for former Minnesota power forward, Kevin Love? What if we kept college phenom Andrew Wiggins, the number one overall pick out of Kansas? Everything would be different. Much, much different.
I’d say the biggest lesson all of us Cavaliers fans have learned about Kevin Love this year actually came just last game in Chicago against the Bulls. (I hope all of you Chicago fans have a terrible Valentine’s Day filled with hate instead of love. Just kidding…sorta).
And it actually happened while Love wasn’t even playing. Out with an injury to his right eye after Heat point guard Mario Chalmers, surely to be spending Valentine’s Day alone, wacked Love in the eye going for a rebound.
So you’re thinking, how can you learn something from a player sitting on the bench?
To be quite frank, the Bulls game was the most painful of all contests to watch of the entire season. Because with LeBron out, even when it was really bad. I mean really, really bad. We reasoned, “Well, LeBron’s out.” King James was playing on Thursday night.
Something was different. It took a couple minutes of play to notice, but the Cavaliers just weren’t the same. Moreover, it wasn’t just the fact that Kevin Love wasn’t hitting a couple early threes or that occasional hook shoot. The whole dynamic of the offense was different. From King James down, everything was off.
The way Kevin Love spaces the floor is so valuable to this team. Even on possessions where he doesn’t touch the ball, the 7th year man pulls the opposing power forward out of the lane because of his ability to shoot the three ball. It must be accounted for.
We know that Tristan Thompson has zero abilities from beyond three feet away from the basket. And even though Timofey Mozgov has proven to knock down the 15 foot jump shot, it’s not a consistent threat.
Look, LeBron is still at the stage in his career where he’s going to get his points no matter what. That being said, he turned the ball over eight times. It’s attributed to how crowded the paint was every time he tried to take it to the hole. Why? Due to Love being out, either power forwards Pau Gasol or Taj Gipson were right there clogging the lane.
Additionally, Kevin Love benefits other shooters like JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. Once Love receives the ball on the wing, the defense shifts their attention over to him leaving those guys wide open for threes. That’s how the Cavs won 12 games in a row.
Finally, with the lane wide open it gives ample opportunities for lobs to Mozgov and Thompson for easy “Maple Smashes” or “Russian Crunches.” I made up that last one.
Kevin Love has been highly criticized throughout this entire season by everyone including me. After Thursday’s game, I now understand just how necessary he is out on the floor, even if his shot is off or he’s not scoring enough points.
Had the Cavaliers kept Andrew Wiggins he surely would have blossomed into close if not the same player he is right now for the T-Wolves. He’s averaging 15.2 point a night along with nearly 5 rebounds. That’s without the guidance of stars like James, Irving etc.
Even with his amazing abilities at such a young age, the spacing of the floor that Love provides simply would not be there. Wiggins is a guard, and would obviously be guarded by a perimeter defender. The lane would be clogged, and the floor of the entire Cavaliers offense would be stunted.
Watching Wiggins during the Rising Stars Challenge was tough because he’s such a good player, and he was on our team at one point. However, it’s quite clear the Kevin Love is much more needed than the incredible young talents of Andrew Wiggins.
The kid is going to have one hell of a career. Only wishing him the best. Also, Happy Valentines Day,
So on this Valentine’s day. Appreciate your man or woman. But when he or she starts to get annoying, appreciate Kevin Love and how he spreads the floor so well for the Cavaliers.