In the NBA’s long history, there have been many cases when fans and analysts felt the maxim “less is more” applied to a player, with improvements on defense, attitude, and other intangibles making up for a decrease in statistics. That appears to be the case with Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, as a Plain Dealer columnist suggested in a new “open letter” and op-ed that encouraged the veteran big man not to take over on the stat sheet like he did when he was playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With LeBron James having left Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers, a number of fans are reportedly expecting the 29-year-old Love to become the Cavaliers’ first offensive option and possibly post similar numbers to the ones he recorded with his old team. According to the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto, whose op-ed was published Sunday on Cleveland.com, it shouldn’t be in Love’s best interests to return to the same player who once averaged a combined 26 points and 12.7 rebounds per game in his last two full seasons in Minnesota.
“Kevin, don’t try to be that guy,” wrote Pluto.
“The numbers were huge. But you were younger. You also didn’t have the same grasp of the game you do after playing four years with the Cavaliers.
“You were a very good player on a team that never made the playoffs. Your defense was lazy, your basketball priorities were immature. That’s why your adjustment to the Cavaliers was rocky.”
— Terry Pluto (@terrypluto) August 5, 2018
According to Pluto, Kevin Love only developed as a player when he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of the 2014-15 NBA seasons and deferred to “more talented” players such as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. While he took significantly fewer shots, his defense improved, and so did his maturity, as he ended up playing in the last four NBA Finals series and won the league championship in 2016.
“That’s the Kevin Love the new Cavaliers need — the older, wiser and yes, even the more scarred version,” Pluto continued.
As he further explained in his op-ed, Pluto opined that Love could take a few tips from Basketball Hall of Fame coach Lenny Wilkens, who often advised his Cavs players not to “try to do too much.” While Pluto added that Love, as the only remaining All-Star on the Cavaliers who is still in the prime of his career, should utilize his skills properly, he stressed that the big man shouldn’t pressure himself to light up the scoreboard like he did in Minnesota, or to emulate James and Irving, who have since left to join other NBA teams.
Since joining the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Love’s numbers have dipped considerably, as he averaged a combined 17.1 points and 10 rebounds in four seasons with the team. Given the fact that Love recently signed a lucrative four-year contract extension with the Cavs, Pluto concluded his piece by advising the star forward to focus on providing leadership and staying healthy and to feel free to ask his team’s coaching staff to give him less playing time or a chance to rest if needed.