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Boston Celtics: Would Kevin Love Make Them a Contender in the East?

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Boston Celtics: Would Kevin Love Make Them a Contender in the East?
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Minnesota Timberwolves star forward Kevin Love—the hottest name in the NBA trade market—recently visited the city of Boston.

That’s when New England went crazy.

Typing "Kevin Love Celtics" into Twitter's search bar should prove my case, but here are a few quotes I pulled out:

Everyone: Calm down for a second and take a breath.

The Celtics have movable pieces and the No. 6 pick in the upcoming draft, so a trade to Boston is not impossible. Speculation, however, is nothing more than just that.

Let’s entertain the possibility for a moment. What would this mean for the Boston Celtics? Would the Celtics be back in contention in the Eastern Conference from the acquisition of one player?

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo spent some time with Love during his Boston visit and addressed the media on what the forward could mean for the Celtics.

"We would be a lot better if we had a guy like Kevin. He's a range-shooting four. He's going to help on the glass," Rondo said. "Obviously we haven't been the best on the glass in the last couple years, he'll do a better job at that aspect."

And Kevin Love has proven himself to be one of the best players in the NBA.

Since becoming a full-time starter in 2010, he has averaged 23.5 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. For a comparison, you would have to look at some of the greatest players at the power forward position.

Karl Malone averaged 25 points and 10.1 rebounds. Charles Barkley averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds. Kevin Garnett averaged 18.6 points and 10.3 rebounds. Tim Duncan averaged 19.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Love is having a Hall of Fame career so far, statistically speaking, but the stat that has been missing thus far is wins.

With the right pieces around him, Love could be the cornerstone of a title contender. The Timberwolves have failed to accomplish that up to this point.

However, they have made progress, and that could keep Love from abandoning them.

The first year Kevin Love started, the team won only 17 games, followed by seasons of 26, 31 and—this past season—40 wins. In the latter, they were one win away from being over .500 for the first time in eight years.

If this pattern of increase continues, the team would jump to 47 wins and could find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

The playoff drought, however, has left Kevin Love in a position where he may want to win now. Although the Celtics are not coming off a great season, they are historically a winning franchise in a winning city.

Before 2014, the Celtics had made the playoffs in six straight seasons. They also have 17 championships total—the most of any team in the NBA.

USA TODAY Sports

Boston is missing an identity right now, though, which Kevin Love could bring to the team.

He would instantly become—by far—their best player. The team's leading scorer last season was Jeff Green with 16.9 points per game, and their leading rebounder was Jared Sullinger with 8.1 per game.

in 2013-14, Love averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds.

Kevin Love finished last season third in the NBA in free throws made, third in rebounds, fourth in points and third in overall player efficiency rating behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He also led all power forwards in assists per game and can really stretch the floor as one of the top perimeter-shooting big men in the NBA.

The Boston Celtics were not terrible last season—they just didn't have a standout player. Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green can provide great contributions, but they're not night-after-night team leaders.

Combined with Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love could take the Celtics to the next level.

With a little luck, the Miami Heat's "Big Three" will split up this summer, which could potentially create something of a power vacuum in the Eastern Conference.

The addition of Kevin Love to Boston's roster would not only make the Celtics a playoff contender once again, but he could also help push the franchise toward an 18th banner.

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