When quantifying how good something is — an album, a movie, a basketball player — the easiest tropes to use are “overrated” and “underrated.” It’s a handy way to differentiate from the conventional wisdom: “This thing that people don’t like is #actually good,” while “This thing that people like is #actually bad.” In the NBA, the overrated/underrated conversation has been done to death, and the words have almost lost their meaning. But there are a few players — big names with long careers — who have been both, at different points, for different reasons.
There was a time when Love was widely considered a top-10 player in the NBA, in the three years following his breakout season in Minnesota in 2010-11. He was putting up Moses Malone-esque rebounding numbers while also knocking down threes, and seemed like a prototype for the future of the power-forward position. In hindsight, a lot of those gaudy numbers were a function of the terrible Timberwolves teams he was on, but that in no way explains the way he was scapegoated in Cleveland. His trade to the Cavs came about a month after LeBron James’ homecoming announcement and completed the formation of a new Big Three with Kyrie Irving.
But Love was always an awkward fit in the Cavs’ offense, and the trade rumors never quite died down. LeBron’s subtweets didn’t help matters. Long-term, Love’s fit in Cleveland is still questionable, but on the right team, he’s still an elite offensive player.