Minnesota Timberwolves: Why Kevin Love's Absence Has Proved He Helps Them Win

Joseph Fafinski@Joseph FafinskiCorrespondent IApril 13, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 1: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to a foul during the second half of a basketball game against the Miami Heat at Target Center on April 1, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Heat defeated the Timberwolves 111- 92. 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 Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

As has been recorded throughout the duration of the 2010-11 NBA season, Kevin Love is truly having a historical year in Minnesota.

The 6'10" UCLA product is averaging 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds, becoming the first player since Moses Malone to record a 20-15 season.

The Timberwolves are in the middle of a horrific losing streak consisting of 14 consecutive defeats, the longest such number in the league at the moment by a green mile.

However, throughout the 14 losses in a row, one factor has remained consistent and that is the lack of play on the behalf of Kevin Love.

In eight of those losses, Love did not even suit up (only two of which ended up being closer than eight points), and in another he played for 14 minutes before succumbing to injury once more.

Even when he played in the six games during the streak he was clearly playing in pain. Newspapers all around Minneapolis had headlines that read "Is Love Done For The Season?" and all throughout the metropolitan area people were talking about him.

Throughout this massive streak Love's absence has been noted, and the T'Wolves have proved that they can't play without him. They have been absolutely hopeless on each end of the floor, routinely losing games early on.

Sure, Love's 17-56 number isn't a record to brag about to your golf buddies, but at the same time you have to look around at who the guy is playing with. The only player over 26 years old (Luke Ridnour) is an average point guard, and the only other scorer (Michael Beasley) is less than adequate defensively and with his passing skills.

There's no question in my mind that Love would have led the T'Wolves to at least two more victories during his eight absences.

How's this for a telling statistic: when Love makes 11 or more free throws at the line this season, the Wolves are a perfect 3-0. 

And that's not all—Love's player efficiency rating of 28.37 is absolutely ludicrous, and he sits in third in the NBA just behind Dwight Howard and LeBron James, two of the game's best five players.

In fact, Blake Griffin, the next power forward on the list, is three full points behind, and the NBA's "best power forward," Dirk Nowitzki, is five points behind Love.

"Well, Dirk Nowitzki could lead the Timberwolves to 25 victories this season!"

This is a completely false statement.

What does Dirk do to shame Love other than narrowly shoot the ball better inside?

Love is the superior rebounder, defender (even though they are both below average), three-point shooter and post player, and while they both have excellent basketball IQs, you must understand that Love's is brilliant for someone his age.

This is not to put down Dirk Nowitzki at all; I could do this with just about any other player at the position.

Without hearing the words "because he can't win," what is preventing Love from ranking among the best?

People who declare Love not one of the best power forwards in the league are completely ignorant due to the sole reason that they look at the record and dismiss his spectacular game altogether.

I suppose if you do look at the record and take that path, let me ask you this: does that mean Keith Bogans is the best shooting guard in the game? Or is DeJuan Blair the best center?

Frankly, I'm sick of all the hate on Love. Why can't we all agree finally that he deserves to belong with the NBA's best?

Perhaps when the Wolves become an all-around respectable team fans alike will begin to respect Love more.

Until then, he'll continue dominating outside, and yearning for victory on the inside.

So the next time you diss Love, please use a different argument than the record, because quite frankly it's not true, and there are clear and evident examples of this. Do people simply forget about his 31-point, 31-rebound performance against the Knicks that led to a victory? Maybe they don't recall when Love put up 37 and 23 to beat the Warriors by three points?

So I guess we're all just imagining that they could've won those games without Love?

He does help his team. They would be an even more dismal 12-69 without him, or perhaps worse.

C'mon, haters of Love: you're doing to have to do better than the record card.


Joseph Fafinski is currently a freshman at the University of Missouri. Originally from Chaska, Minnesota, Joseph is an NBA and Minnesota Timberwolves Featured Columnist and a frequent writer of the NBA, NFL and MLB. You can e-mail Joseph at jef3m8@mail.missouri.edu or on Twitter at   @JosephFafinski.


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