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Kevin Love just wants to play

Nov 5, 2010, 4:21 PM EDT

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Hornets Getty Images

Brandon Roy is averaging 40.5 minutes a game this season to lead the league. Team’s stars usually average 35 give or take a little. Pau Gasol is at 37.4 per game this season for the Lakers, Rudy Gay 39.2, Russell Westbrook 36.4, Paul Pierce 37.2. Then there are guys like Beno Udrh getting 36 per game or Marcus Camby at 30 (at age 36).

Kevin Love is playing just 26.4 minutes per game, despite that he leading Minnesota in both scoring and rebounding. Love is playing more than any other member of the Wolves — Kurt Rambis has gone with an almost college approach where eight guys are getting between 20 and 26 minutes a game — but not as much as other stars on other teams.

While he has been saying all the right things, the lack of run has frustrated Kevin Love, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard at TrueHoop. He says Love is not alone and quotes scouts and front office people from around the league who don’t get Minnesota’s game plan.

“You have to be on crystal meth not to give Love more minutes on that team,” one scout told me. “It makes no sense.”

Love’s defense usually gets the blame (it did here from comments who said he deserved the limited 24 minutes in the season opener). Love is not a great defender and in an ideal world would be paired with a shot-blocking center (a Marcus Camby type, for example). Minnesota has paired him with slumping Darko Milicic.

But if you’re limiting Love and all the offense and rebounding, you better be getting a lot more defense out of who you’re bringing in. For the Wolves, that is Anthony Tolliver. Last season at the four, Tolliver’s PER against was 1.4 better than Love. He is a better defender. But Love’s offensive PER was 8.2 better.

Those numbers would not be identical this season but it bears out what the eyes are telling us — any defensive improvement is more than offset by the offense lost.

Which is just another way of saying, “Why isn’t Kevin Love getting more minutes?”

  1. jstrizzle - Nov 5, 2010 at 4:36 PM

    We get it Kurt. You are a UCLA fan and a Kevin Love fan. As the season progresses and the rotation sets I bet he will be hitting 30-35 minutes per game. Just chill out on these stories for a bit.

  2. ericreives - Nov 5, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    That quote from the scout is hilarious and I agree. The T’wolves are mess for not upping Love’s minutes, especially when he is the perfect candidate for the triangle offense.

  3. ibejeph - Nov 5, 2010 at 6:41 PM

    The guy isn’t doing what his coach wants. His coach is hard on him because he knows he can do better. Now we have a bunch of clowns questioning it, like it is some sort of travesty.

    How should Rambis handle this? Should he left his “star” play anyway he wants or should he use the tools he has to shape Love in the player he knows he can be?

    The only problem I see are guys writing the article, trying to blow up nothing into something.

    Maybe Helin has Love on all 57 of his fantasy teams and is pissed off at the lack of production.

  4. rushified2112 - Nov 5, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    it cracks me up when I read about coaches who have players like love who play a system that does not cater to what a player does case he does not know somebody needs to tell rambis he is not coaching the lakers and does not have the players to try and run that system there. if your best players strength is scoring why would not run a system that plays to that. it’s like that idiot who coaches the pacers who refuses to change his system that does not work with one that players to his players strengths.yes they need to work on defense but to try and make their game fit the coaches sytle might be a reason the timberwoves and pacers always suck.

  5. petermcd88 - Nov 5, 2010 at 7:37 PM

    Again I would have to say that leading a good awful team in rebounding and points isn’t that great. I just hope that Love realizes that and understands that all the hype surrounding him is just that, hype. OKC, Portland and Utah all have bigs that can abuse Love on a regular basis if he does not get better on defense. And as highly touted as he is on offense I don’t think teams actually go into T wolves games trying to double team and shut down Love.

    More than anything this says that management is not high on Love and realizes that he is a complementary piece to a great team, nothing more. You don’t let complementary pieces develop bad habits on bad teams if you want to be a good team. After watching the Sixers fall in love (no pun intended) with their draft picks over the years, vastly over paying them (Andre Iguodola) and overestimating their potential (Jrue Holiday top 5 point guard???!?!?!?!?!) it is refreshing to see an organization that sees its talent realistically (even if they signed Darko to a long term contract).

    • petermcd88 - Nov 5, 2010 at 7:38 PM

      *god awful

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