Earlier today, reports surfaced that Kevin Love was going to be named this season’s Most Improved Player. Just as Derrick Rose is being fitted for this season’s MVP, Love was destined to win the league’s M.I.P. since sometime in February. And to the surprise of no one, he will be given the award officially sometime this afternoon.
Love’s offseason work was a big reason why he’s in this position now:
After finishing his second season in the league as a sixth man, Love worked hard last summer to improve his game. He won a gold medal with Team USA at the world championships in Turkey and went through grueling workouts with Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook at a Los Angeles gym.
“The way he works, you should see how hard he goes,” Rose said. “When we work out we don’t do [any] big-man drills. It’s all guard stuff with me and Russ. It’s amazing how hard he works out.”
This is a great accomplishment for Love, and certainly brings meaning to a season that saw Minnesota finish with only 17 wins. He averaged over 20 points and led the NBA with 15.2 rebounds per game (if you’re an advanced-stat guy, Love was still fourth in the league with a total rebounding percentage of 23.6). He had an incredible 30-30 game back in November, the first in nearly 30 years. He even defied the odds and made the Western Conference All-Star team.
But as is the case with every award, there are arguments for other players.
Tony Allen might’ve been the best defensive player in the league this year, and completely changed an entire team’s philosophy in Memphis with his aggression and unselfishness. His steal percentage, 4.51, not only led the league this year, but it also just missed out on the top-10 ever for a single season. Or how about Eric Gordon and LaMarcus Aldridge upping their pedigree as two of the best young scorers in the league?
What about the players who went from great to all-worldly? I’m talking about guys like Dwight Howard, Westbrook and yes, Rose. Howard developed a game in the post, continued to dominate on the glass and had a second-half of the season that was one of the more dominant runs we’ve seen in the last 10 years. Rose’s PER jumped nearly five points. His three-point percentage skyrocketed to 33 percent. He led the Bulls to the best record, and has shown in the Bulls’ first two playoff wins how far he has come. Westbrook has his bouts with over-aggressiveness and probably tries to do too much given that he has Kevin Durant on his team. But he improved even more than Rose did this season, upping his scoring average by just under six points a game.
Love improved this year, but some of me still suspects he might’ve hit these numbers earlier had Wolves coach Kurt Rambis actually played the man. People forget that last year, Love didn’t even average 29 minutes a game and yet still put up 14 and 11 a night.
Love deserves the award just for the way he gutted out the season, giving everything he had every night knowing Minnesota wasn’t going to win. Rebounding is all heart. To hit the glass like Love did this year is all the evidence you need to realize dude is one of the hardest workers in the league. That heart is the same reason why his PER ballooned to 24.3 this year.
If it wasn’t Love, who else could’ve won the Most Improved Player?
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