Sunday, March 13, 2011

In Context: Kevin Love's rebounding

Image via Wikipedia
Don't hate the player named Love who people love to hate on because they feel he pads his stats.  Hate the game.  Or hate me for leading with such a weird first line.   

Minnesota's power forward Kevin Love keeps racking up double-doubles this season.  He's up to 53 in a row now, which is a new post-merger record in the NBA.  He recently broke the record, set by the great Moses Malone.  People have criticized Love for stat padding, citing how fast Minnesota plays (first in pace), how inefficient they are at putting the ball in the hoop (27th in field goal percentage), and how bad Minny's other rebounders are as the reason why Love's rebounding averages are so astronomical.  I find these people astro-comical (Yeah, that's a new word.  Use it.  It's fine.  It means out-of-this-world funny.) 

How is Love stat padding though?  He's the most efficient high-minutes and high-volume scorer on the team.  His TS% is almost 60 percent while he averages 20.9 points per game.  He's able to shoot three 3's per game at nearly a 43 percent clip, yet grabs 4.7 offensive rebounds per game, lending credence to the argument that one's role on offense does not determine one's ability to grab offensive rebounds.  Standing 25 feet away from the basket as you spot up for 3 isn't the best strategy when trying to grab offensive rebounds.

Love's critics need to watch Love more closely.  I understand their concern about Love getting "cheap" rebounds by tipping in his own misses after shooting a bad shot up and knowing where it is going to land, but you can't grab almost 16 boards per game doing that, and you can't do that on the defensive glass either.  He gets many of his rebounds because he's so good at getting position, has magnet hands, and is strong enough to hold position against opposing rebounders. 

Don't look at the number; look at the rebounding skills Love possesses.        


  1. Count me among those loving Love's season. I've been a fan since his UCLA days, and have been fighting an uphill battle arguing on his behalf ever since the Mayo trade. (Doesn't look so silly of McHale now, eh?)

    I do wonder though about the degree of Love's impact relative to his stats in Minny. The obvious thing is the fact the T'wolves have a weak record. But now Love misses time, and Anthony Randolph also puts up huge scoring and rebounding numbers. What are you thoughts on this?

  2. Well, I'd like to see Randolph play a few more games. He put up two excellent games, and then the stinker against Boston yesterday (understandable against a very good defense). Randolph is a very talented player who hasn't gotten minutes anywhere and has been good for a couple of huge breakout-like games everywhere he's been. I simply don't know what kind of player he CAN be to judge Love relative to Randolph, especially not after just two good games by Randolph on Minny.

    I'd like to give Love a chance (Haa, such a useful name). This was his breakout season, but on a young, crappy team with a young coach. I have a feeling that next year, his impact will be more evident.