Why It's Time for Kevin Love to Put the Blame on Himself

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 18: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 18, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Kevin Love blamed the Minnesota Timberwolves' two-game losing streak on a lack of aggressiveness and physicality (according to Ray Richardson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press).

Perhaps there are more tangible sources for these struggles, though.

For starters, this club has been decimated by injuries. Coach Rick Adelman has tried 13 different starters in the team's first 23 games (12-11). Love has played in only 13 of those games. Ricky Rubio has appeared in just two.

But it's the NBA—injuries happen.

The players left on the floor simply have to play better.

And that starts and stops with Love.

His season debut was delayed by a broken hand suffered during a preseason workout. He returned to the hardwood on November 21, but he forgot to bring his game with him.

Sure, his rebounds are as impressive as ever (14.2 per game). But Love's more than just a great rebounder, or at least he was prior to the 2012-13 season.

For all of the talk about the free-throw struggles of Lakers center Dwight Howard (who's notably still recovering from back surgery in April), Love has managed to largely keep his own unsightly shooting numbers out of the media.

He's shooting just 35.5 percent from the field, nearly 10 points lower than his career average (45.1). And it's been a stretch to call him a stretch forward, considering he's converted just 21.9 percent of his perimeter attempts.

To be fair, he's got an understandable defense for his shooting woes. He said that his hand injury has prevented him from finding a comfortable shot release (according to Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune).

If he's truly in such discomfort that he can't even find the feeling for his shot, why then is he attempting nearly 17 field goals per game? Or more importantly, why's he firing up nearly five threes a night?

Nikola Pekovic, the second most active Timberwolves shooter, has managed just 12.3 field-goal attempts per game. Andrei Kirilenko is the only other player on the roster averaging double-digit attempts (10.0).

Those two players are shooting 50.2 and 52.1 percent, respectively. And they're not the only ones outshooting Love. Only Louis Amundson (33.3), Brandon Roy (31.4) and Ricky Rubio (14.3) have worse shooting percentages than Love.

There's a time-tested adage that the only way for shooters to emerge from a shooting slump is to keep shooting. Love subscribes to this theory, telling Youngblood, "It will get there, it will just take time."

But this isn't a mysterious shooting slump. It's the direct effect of an injury and one that could linger for a while.

Love can't simply stop shooting. It's not in his nature and not in the best interest of the team.

But he can't keep chucking at this rate. In terms of attempts per game, he's the 11th most active player in the NBA.

Credit Love's teammates for keeping this club in the playoff race despite the extended absences of him and Rubio. Love now needs to figure out how to keep himself from undoing what his teammates accomplished.