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Report: Cavs’ Kevin Love Commits to Playing for Team USA at 2021 Olympics

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2021

Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers veteran power forward Kevin Love has committed to playing for Team USA at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, his agent Jeff Schwartz told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Tuesday.

Previously, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reported there was mutual interest since Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich "was interested in bringing [Love] aboard."

Love was one of 57 players to be named finalists for Team USA, making him eligible for the team. He is also a former Olympian, as he played for the gold medal-winning American team at the 2012 Summer Games.

In addition to playing for Team USA at the 2012 Olympics, the 32-year-old veteran helped lead the United States to gold at the FIBA World Championships in 2010.

When Love was part of the Olympic team nine years ago, he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves and had established himself as one of the best young bigs in the game with averages of 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds per game in 2011-12.

Love has changed a lot since then, slimming down and becoming more of a floor-stretching big than someone who spends a lot of time in the paint.

The former UCLA standout, who is a five-time NBA All-Star, has spent the past seven seasons with the Cavs. He is currently a veteran leader on a young and inexperienced team that hasn't done much winning, but his tenure in Cleveland started off much more successfully.

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Love was the third member of Cleveland's Big Three along with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and helped lead the Cavs to four consecutive NBA Finals and one championship during that time.

In Cleveland, Love's rebounding has been down, but his three-point shooting has been up compared to his time in Minnesota.

During his 374-game run with the Cavs during the regular season, Love is averaging 16.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.2 three-pointers made while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Injuries have been an issue for him in recent years, and he is coming off a 2020-21 season in which he was limited to 25 games. He averaged just 12.2 points per game, which was his lowest scoring output since his rookie season, and 7.4 rebounds, which was a career low.

Love did shoot the ball fairly well from downtown, though, making 2.3 trifectas per game and connecting on 36.5 percent of his long-range attempts.

While Love is no longer one of the 12 best American basketball players by most measures, he benefits from the fact that Team USA doesn't have many enticing bigs to choose from.

Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis is undoubtedly Team USA's best big, but he opted out of the Olympics. Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat is likely next, and he will be part of the team, but there isn't much to speak of behind him.

Vardon noted that when the United States finished a disappointing seventh in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, it didn't get the type of production it needed from its bigs in Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks, Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers and Mason Plumlee of the Detroit Pistons.

Most of those who have committed to play for Team USA at the Tokyo Games thus far are excellent offensive players and shooters, including Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets duo of Kevin Durant and James Harden.

Because of that, spreading the floor will give the Americans their best chance to succeed, and Love is one of the few American bigs who excels at doing that.

Love hasn't enjoyed much individual or team success with the Cavaliers over the past few seasons, but he could be the ideal fit for Team USA at the end of the bench given his skill set and experience in big games both at the international and NBA levels.

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