In the midst of a disappointing season, the rumors swirling around Kevin Love have been constant. Despite a 54-22 record, the Cavaliers have largely underperformed despite what their record says. Cleveland has yet to take the jump many have been talking about with a healthy Love and Kyrie Irving coming back this season. With the Cavaliers, Love’s production is at the lowest of his career, and he has become the initial scapegoat in attempting to explain Cleveland’s struggles.
This season, Love’s numbers are clearly lower than his aptitude offensively. The Cavaliers struggle to consistently throw the ball to Love in the post, even though that is theoretically where he can do the most damage. Love’s.99 points per post-up possession is the fourth-highest among players with at least 200 post-ups, according to NBA.com/Stats. Despite his success down low, Love is not found in the top-10 in post-up attempts in the league.
Instead, Love has been forced to spot-up on the perimeter instead. According to NBA.com/Stats, Love has spotted up 25.9 percent of his time on the court this season. Although he has been relatively successful with 1.03 points per spot-up possession, placing Love on the perimeter more than his time down low has clearly affected his comfort and production.
With the spot-up being the most prominent part of his game this year, Love has taken more three-pointers than ever. His three-point rate has shot up to 44.6 percent, the highest of his career. Because of this development, Love is getting to the free throw line at a lower frequency than ever at 32.2 percent per field goal attempt.
With Love on the perimeter most of the time in Cleveland, one of his biggest strengths has been neglected. His 7.1 offensive rebound percentage is the second-lowest of his career, just behind last year’s mark. In Minnesota, where he was used as more of a low-post threat, Love was able to collect offensive rebounds more easily than during his stay with the Cavaliers.
In response to his struggles and seemingly poor fit in Cleveland, Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post suggests that the Nuggets have the assets to lure the Cavaliers in with a package for Love.
“The Nuggets are well-positioned to restock Cleveland with draft picks and veteran players in their prime that can thrive in the up-tempo, space-the-floor game that the Cavaliers ultimately want to make part of their DNA. The Nuggets organization probably has just two untouchable players — rookies Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic — clearing a path for it to do whatever it feels is fair in potential packages in an attempt to trade for Love.”
Dempsey’s claim makes sense, as Cleveland has looked to move into a more uptempo style of play under new head coach Tyronn Lue. If the Cavaliers are really looking to go forward with Lue and his offensive scheme, then a trade to obtain this type of personnel makes total sense. The Nuggets have players like Kenneth Faried, Will Barton and even a playmaker like Danilo Gallinari who could appeal to Cleveland if their new philosophy is taken into next season.
On the other hand, a Love trade for Denver would make sense as well. The Nuggets have a plethora of young role players without a true star on the roster. An experienced veteran who has shown the ability to lead a team offensively like Love could jumpstart Denver to a playoff berth in the coming seasons.
Ultimately, it has not been seen if the Cavaliers will look to make a big trade in the ensuing offseason if the team does not win a championship this season. However, looking at the way LeBron James has been talking and acting this season, it may just be the only option.
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