Wednesday September 14th, 2016

Remove Kevin Love from the Cavaliers and put him on a team in a vacuum. That team might have more to gain from Love taking on a creative role, whereas that dimension of his game goes largely untapped in Cleveland. Tweak the dynamics around Love and suddenly his elbow touches might become central to a quality offense—a starting point for quality sets and shots that leans on Love to operate as few other bigs in the league can. The fully enabled Love can curl around a screen into a jumper, post smaller defenders, facilitate to turn good looks into better ones, isolate using the threat of his jumper, and hit the glass for opportunistic points. There’s only so much need to access these skills when a possession would otherwise work through LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, but most teams aren’t so lucky as to put a viable star into a tertiary role. Defense remains an issue. Love was agile enough to keep his positioning on that single, fateful possession to close out Game 7 of the NBA Finals, yet overall he’s still a sore spot in the Cavaliers’ coverage that has to be accounted for. That’s not crippling—it’s simply a consideration that has to be dealt with and absorbed, and one that is generally offset by the wide, varied production that Love brings elsewhere. (Last year: No. 17)

+ Excellent defensive rebounder whose outlet passes can jump-start an offense
+ Solid three-point shooter overall but especially good (39.9%) from the corners 
Sometimes shorts his defensive effort over the course of a full possession
Offers no rim protection whatsoever

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