Apr 21, 2011, 2:06 AM EDT
It’s not a surprise, and it’s about to become official on Thursday.
According to the Associated Press, on Thursday Minnesota’s Kevin Love will be named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
Love averaged an impressive 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds per game this season. He went from being a sixth man for large stretches of last season to a guy the Wolves need to build around.
What makes me most happy is that he actually improved — often this award goes to a guy who just does what he does but do to circumstance gets a bump in minutes (inflating his numbers). And Love did play 7 more minutes a game this season.
But his shooting percentage jumped 20 points to 47 percent overall and he got to the line more often too, jumping his True Shooting Percentage (which includes all points scored) to 59.3 percent.
Then there is the rebounding — he grabbed 23.6 percent of the available rebounds when he was on the floor (third in the league), and 34.2 percent of the defensive rebounds.
That fueled the double-double streak that got him noticed.
What was amazing was early in the season when Kurt Rambis did not recognize what he had and benched Love for long stretches and key moments. He kept being frustrated with Love for what he is not (and he is not a great defender by anyone’s definition). But what he does he does very, very well. He rebounds, he can outlet the ball, and the man is a big who can score inside and also shot 41 percent from three this season. He is one of the most fundamentally sound big men in the game.
This is a good fit. And while at times in the past this award has been the kiss of death (Aaron Brooks, Bobby Simmons) it will not be in this case. You just have that feeling he is only getting better.
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