SportsWriter's Block


Kevin Love, basketball's Dr. Seuss

Posted at 1:03 PM, Jun 24, 2014
and last updated 2016-11-03 11:22:52-04

“Oh the places you'll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winningest winner of all!”

-- Dr. Seuss

Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t write pen album reviews for Rolling Stone.

The hype surrounding Dr. Seuss has always mystified. Even my illiterate 5-year-old self felt short-changed by the likes of The Lorax and Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose.

“I will not eat them in a house, I will not eat them with a mouse, I will not eat them in a box, I will not eat them with a fox…”

How long did it take to come up with that sensational piece of prose? Sit down Neruda. There’s a new Wordplay Sheriff in the county.

The growing hype around Kevin Love's pending trade status has been similarly puzzling.

Love's supporters argue that his six-year exile has been as depressing as a Minneapolis winter through no fault of his own. They claim that he was saddled with an incompetent GM in David Kahn and a less-than-stellar supporting cast.

Kahn's replacement, Flip Saunders, appointed himself head coach this summer after a long interview with a mirror. Saunders, incidentally, was also the inspiration for Javier Bardem's character in Skyfall.

Supporters point to Love's Player Efficiency Rating last season, 26.97 (third in the NBA), his 26.1 points per game (fourth), and his 12.5 rebounds (third, behind Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan), as signs of progress.

He led the league in double-doubles, with 65. As a power forward, he averaged 2.5 threes per game (seventh). He became the first player in history to put up 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 100 threes in a season. All this got him an All-NBA 2nd Team selection.

This is a superstar player, yes?


Indulge me: Love's plus-minus last season was 4.6, per That was good for 20th among players who averaged at least 30 minutes a game, and behind his teammates Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic. Also ahead of him: Howard, Westbrook, Ibaka, Bosh, Durant, LeBron and four members of the Golden State Warriors, including Klay Thompson. We’ll get back to Mr. Klay. 

“My goodness! My gracious!” they shouted. “My Word! It’s something brand new! It's an elephant-bird!!”

Love's Offensive Rebound Percentage – the rate with which he pulled down boards off his team's missed shots -- was a pedestrian 8.6, only 19th among players with 30-plus minutes. Drummond and Jordan, meanwhile, were first and third in ORP at 17.7 and 13.3 respectively.

It begs the question: How could the third leading rebounder perform so poorly on the offensive glass and yet maintain such a high average? It’s because he made up for it with easy boards on the defensive end. Love's defensive rebound percentage was a whopping 29.8, second among those in the 30-minute club only to DeMarcus Cousins, another superstar on a perennial loser.

Pad those stats. One fish, two fish, red fish blue fish.

Things get worse. Love's Opponent Field Goal Percentage at the Rim was 57.4. That means anyone who challenged Love at the basket made their shots 57 percent of the time. Only Tristan Thompson and Thaddeus Young gave up a higher percentage among players who challenged at least five field goal attempts per game. Not good company for our superstar.

In short: Love doesn't trouble himself with crashing the offensive boards and his defense is suspect. You can't teach effort.

Kevin Garnett took the Wolves to the playoffs in five of his first six seasons in Minnesota. Love has made zero such trips. Second Team All-NBA?

Last season, with a healthy Rubio and one of the best coaches in the league in Rick Adelman, Love could only manage a 40-42 record. Love's never finished above .500. Progress?

This weekend Golden State was about ready to pull the trigger on a trade that would have sent Thompson (remember him?) and David Lee to the Wolves in exchange for Love. It would have been the biggest Bay Area mistake since they tried banning nudity on Castro Street. Fortunately, Steve Kerr stepped in and vetoed what would have been a disastrous move for the title-contending Warriors. Klay is a vital component to taking pressure off his better half, Curry. Lee and Bogut can handle the paint just fine on their own.

Love is not a franchise guy. He's not wired that way. He can't carry the Lakers or Knicks. To be the “winningest winner of all,” he needs to be the third banana on a team like the Spurs or Blazers.

J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis crafted classic stories that allowed children to reflect on complex ideas of mortality and the afterlife. Dr. Seuss just wanted a good omelet. He was the Robert Plant of the writing world. Hyped.

So is Kevin Love.

-- Follow Faris Tanyos on Twitter @OnlyFairchild