In the NBA, an unspoken rule seems to exist: if you don't play for a winning team, you don't deserve the recognition. Throughout Love's time in Minnesota, this has been a common theme.
This year he can't be ignored, however.
Love's always been good—I don't think anyone will deny that. But, he's always posed the star of a mediocre, small-market ballclub. "If this guy played for any other team, would he stand out?"
And this season, the answer is a resounding, "yes."
Especially after March, a month in which Love put up record-breaking numbers, the UCLA product has edged himself into some serious MVP discussion in the sports community.
Here are five reasons Love deserves to bring home the trophy.
Kevin Love is a powerhouse, it's as simple as that.
Last February—despite the Timberwolves holding a record that can only be referred to as abysmal—the forward gave Minnesota fans something to cheer about when he broke the NBA double-double record.
Love tallied his 42nd consecutive double-double on Feb. 11, 2011, making it his 51st overall before the All-Star break.
This season, he's continued to impress with this stat line.
Especially with the grueling, lockout-shortened season, grabbing double digits in both points and rebounds in so many games demonstrates legitimate skill and athleticism.
While Love participated in last year's All-Star weekend as an alternate, he found himself easily named to the Western Conference roster for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.
Although primarily a jovial contest as fan entertainment, the contest showcased Love's skills, as well. Over just 18 minutes of play (playing as a reserve), the forward tallied 17 points and seven assists.
“Like most All-Star Games, people get up and down, lots of dunks, lots of plays that excite the fans,” Love commented postgame. “I just tried to do my part, help us win, and it feels good to get the ‘W.’”
The former Bruin didn't only play well in the All-Star Game itself.
Not many men of Love’s size and position can shoot successfully outside the post—but then again, Love doesn’t play like the average NBA big man. He averages at least one made three-pointer per game, and this stat earned him a spot in the Foot Locker 3-Point Competition.
After an extensive, back-and-forth bout, Love edged out two tie-breakers to eventually defeat Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.
It's easy to shine when your team is in the lead and playing a smooth game, but Love steps up and makes a difference when it really matters.
Pressure doesn't affect him—unless to make him stronger.
The Wolves have found themselves in several games that have come down to the wire, and Love puts up some of his best numbers in such situations.
In the last five minutes of games in which the scoring margin has been five or fewer points, Love has shot 24-of-54 (44 percent). His stats top those of fellow MVP contender Kevin Durant, who stands at 41 percent in similar game scenarios.
In addition, according to SI.com, Love is 13-of-13 from the charity stripe in the last three minutes with the scoring margin at three points or fewer. His game-saving shots include the buzzer beater against the LA Clippers and the three-point shot he made in OKC to send the game into OT on March 23.
If your team's in a pinch, Love's the one you want on the floor.
Despite the fact that Minnesota currently holds a record below .500, Love has held his squad together in the face of major obstacles and adversity.
The Timberwolves started off the season with a lot of hype and a winning record, and the team showed serious potential for postseason contention. However, the injury bug hit—first with Ricky Rubio, a hit that affected the team the most, and then with other role players, including Nikola Pekovic, Michael Beasley and J.J. Barea.
Through it all, Love has not only kept a positive and motivated attitude, but he's also delivered a stat line that blows other players out of the water.
ESPN writer Rob Mahoney weighs in:
Ricky Rubio did a spectacular job of getting the Minnesota Timberwolves over a particular hump, but his emergence disguised Love's brilliance as Minnesota's anchor. It takes a man of unique talents and ridiculous production to get such a profoundly weird Wolves team into playoff contention, but Love—by way of stat-stuffed bulk alone—managed to do just that.
Not only did Love win the 2012 All-Star 3-Point Competition. Not only does he rank No. 1 in the league for double-doubles.
The 23-year-old also stands at No. 4 for PPG (26.5) and No. 2 for rebounds (13.6).
Take a look at these March stat lines presented by the Washington Post:
LeBron James: 25.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.1 blocks, 2.4 steals
Kevin Durant: 28 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.7 steals
Kobe Bryant: 27.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.2 steals
Kevin Love: 31.3 points, 14.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.7 steals
In a month where Timberwolves players dropped like flies, Love not only remained stable, but increased his numbers astronomically. His numbers rank above those of fellow MVP contenders, and Love is doing it largely without the supporting cast the other three possess.
Wherever you look, Love is turning heads.
Defense. Point totals. Minutes played. Rebounds. Three-point Shooting. Double-Doubles.
There's no doubt in my mind, here.
No other player deserves the 2012 NBA MVP trophy more than K-Love.