Kevin Love Needs to Take a Page from Blake Griffin's Offense

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2012

Feb. 28, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA;   Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) defends against Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love (42) in the second half of the game at the Staples Center. Timberwolves won 109-97. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love's return was welcomed by the Minnesota Timberwolves and their fans, but nobody could have anticipated how badly he would struggle with his shot.

The team stands 9-8, six games out of first place, and it's time for the former UCLA Bruin to start playing a more physical game—a la Blake Griffin—rather than try to dazzle fans with his jumper.

Love is averaging 19.4 points and 14.4 rebounds per game this season, but his percentages are not where they should be.

He has shot just 36 percent from the field, an abysmal 20 percent from long range, and 65 percent from the free-throw line—all below his career marks of 45, 36 and 81.

In a report by Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Love attributed his struggles to his hand not feeling quite right yet, among other things:

I think it's touch. I've been shooting the ball 18 years of my life now. It's just the hand being so idle, having to strengthen it. Getting the ball to feel right in my hand has been such a struggle since getting back on the court a couple weeks ago. It's definitely a struggle right now, on top of just being fatigued, having to get my legs back. It's been tough.

Looking at how Love has played this season, it is clear that his confidence in his jump shot is not where it needs to be.

The only area in which he has shown any regular consistency is right under the basket, where he has made 46.4 percent of his shots. He has also played well just to the left of the hoop, sinking 7-of-9 shots from that area.

Though Love does rely on his jump shot quite a bit, there is a way he can get his percentages up and not have to worry about how well the ball leaves his hand.

If Love could make his offense stay under the basket almost exclusively—as Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin does—then his production would improve immensely.

This adjustment would not be difficult for Love. Like Griffin, he is 6'10" and brings great size to the paint. Love's dominance in rebounding is indicative of this, and would help him as he developed this type of interior game.

On offense, Griffin's approach is the complete opposite of Love.

Of Griffin's 251 field goal attempts this season, more than half have come in the paint—and he is shooting 52 percent from the floor as a result.

Griffin uses his size to make opposing players get out of his way, and his 251-pound frame gives him an extra advantage in doing so.

Love weighs only 235 pounds, but has improved his athleticism so much in the past couple of seasons that developing a game in the paint (and also the low post) should come second nature to him.

Yes, his jump shot is a big part of his offense, but he isn't doing the Timberwolves any favors by simply waiting for it to come back. If he really wants to get the team back to its winning ways, he will need to be more assertive in the paint, and help provide Nikola Pekovic a fine 1-2 punch in the low post.

That isn't to say that he should completely abandon his mid and long range shooting. What makes Love such a great asset to Minnesota is his ability to make a shot from virtually anywhere on the floor.

He should certainly continue to redevelop his conditioning, along with his jump shot and free throws, which he can do in practice.

During games, however, Love must unleash his inner Blake Griffin, and be an absolute beast in the paint. It's not the biggest part of his game, but it's how he can best help the offense-strapped Timberwolves now.

The more this part of his game develops, the more of a threat he can be once his jump shot returns to its regular consistency.

Once Love becomes a greater threat on offense, the more of a threat Minnesota can become as a whole.