For the uninitiated, Kevin Love is one of the best players in the NBA. There, I said it. The former UCLA star has blown past racial and body-type expectations to drop the first 30-30 game since Moses Malone’s more than 20 years ago.
Some may say that his 30-30 came against the hurry-up Knicks — a team about as renowned for its strong rebounding as Shaq is for showing up to camp in shape — but he still put up 23-24 against my hometown Lakers.
Although Love is far and away the best Timberwolf, the begoggled Kurt Rambis seems to be unable to see past what Love can’t do. Sure he’s not the ideal size for the four and quicker power forwards will eat him for lunch, but the boy can play. Pure and simple.
Bad teams obsess about what their stars can’t do. We saw it in Memphis when they shipped the still-young Pau Gasol to LA for Javaris Crittenton, Kwame Brown and the rights to his younger brother, and we even saw it in Minnesota earlier this year when they swapped Al Jefferson to Utah for Kosta Koufous. For Memphis, the deal worked out in a way —Marc proved to be a borderline All-Star at the five and they shipped away Agent Zero so that he could try to exercise his (pretend) license to kill in DC — but Pau’s presence in LA sent the Lakers to three straight Finals and inspired a nation to wonder if Chris Wallace was taking revenge on his former employers.
For every well-run team in the league, the top priority is discerning the strengths of their stars and filling the rest of the team with players to compliment that strength. The Heat are the obvious exception to this rule — they decided to go and get the best player in the league to compliment their star — but for positive evidence of this working right away, look no further than the Magic.
Their best player, Dwight Howard, is worthless on offense if the opposing big is his size. He can’t shoot worth a lick and his free throw percentage is in Shaq-ian territory. Some teams would wail and moan about why their star can’t step out to the three-point line to turn around a foundering offense, but Otis Smith coolly stocked the rest of the team with lights-out shooters (ridiculously overpaying Rashard Lewis in the process) that turn Howard’s weaknesses into team-wide strengths.
Love isn’t quite the defensive force that Howard is, but might be an even better rebounder and is a better outlet passer, with a decent outside shot to boot. A smart team would plug him into a system with a speedy point guard, a few athletic wings and a leaper opposite him at center to deal with the shots that Love is too ground-bound to contest. Kahn has made nods toward those things — he drafted three point guards a year ago to go with the three small forwards he picked up this year — but seems intent on saddling Love with a coach that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that the front office spent the summer shipping away the team’s former star (the unbelievably underrated Al Jefferson) so that Love could finally have the spotlight to shine. And don’t even get me started on Michael Beasley. He’s a power forward, Kurt. Play him there.
Daily Nexus Artsweek editor Michael Hafford wishes he could find someone that could complement his strengths and weaknesses. There’s always e-Harmony and Craigslist.