3. KEVIN LOVE – turns 25 on September 7, 2013
There’s a bit of a misconception about Kevin Love. In the annual survey of the NBA’s general managers, they’re asked who gets the most out of “limited natural ability?” Love got over 34 percent of the the votes. He also won over 50 percent of the votes for the league’s best offensive rebounder, after winning over 60 percent the year before. While we agree with the offensive rebounding portion we’re not so sure he’s “limited” in regards to his natural ability. His max vertical coming out of UCLA was 35 inches. Regardless of whether Kevin Love overachieves with “limited natural ability” or if he’s a lot more athletic than the league’s general managers give him credit for, he’s been a beast during his four-plus years in the league.
In Love’s first two years, before Minnnesota realized what they’d stumbled upon, he still managed to average a double-double each season. Then, in his third year in the league, he made the leap, added a deadly outside shot and became a 20 and 10 guy on a nightly basis, picked up the 2010-11 NBA’s Most Improved Player award while grabbing a ridiculous 15.2 rebounds per game. With the addition of Ricky Rubio last season, he had his Timberwolves in position to make their first playoffs since the departure of Kevin Garnett and averaged 26.0 points per game, which was fifth in the league. We all know what happened next: Rubio tore up his knee, and Love and the ‘Wolves went 5-20 down the stretch last season, missing out on the playoffs for the seventh season in a row.
Although David Kahn signed Love to a four-year, $60 million contract, with a fourth year option, he’s been making some noise about a future with the ‘Wolves if they don’t improve soon. He’s made the All-Star Game the last two years, was a Second-Team All-NBA player last season and finished sixth in MVP voting. He broke his hand before this season started (while doing knuckle push-ups), but since coming back into the lineup, he’s still averaging 19.9 points per game and 14.2 rebounds per game. You can be sure his points and field goal percentage will pick-up once his right shooting hand heals more fully and he can take the brace off, but he’s one of the the best young players in the league and many – including TNT’s jocular Charles Barkley – believe he’s the best power forward in the league. We agree, and that’s why we think he has a chance at Springfield. The question now is which uniform he’d be rocking if he’s ever inducted. You’re on notice, Kahn.