Charles Barkley recently called Kevin Love on InsideTheNBA, “the best power forward in the world.” That is large praise from a large man, although less large since he joined WeightWatchers. It is possible to take it a step further: Kevin Love should win Most Valuable Player this year, but he won't.
Love worked on his body this summer, and it shows. He looks strong and healthy this year, and can use his body in the paint more effectively than ever after playing volleyball all summer. He looks bouncy, tan, and dangerous; he has probably never been in better physical shape in his life. He reportedly lost 25 pounds, and it will serve him well in this lockout shortened year; he has not looked winded in any game this year and somehow he is averaging 39.9 minutes a game(#1 in the league). That is more minutes than at any point of his career and it will serve him well statistically.
Love also wins MVP points for fan accessibility. He recently offered to pay for any Wolves fan's ticket to the Detroit game if they bought a ticket to the Kings game. Granted this is a much more sentimental argument than a fact-based won, but it doesn't hurt to point out that Love is doing every single thing that he can do to win basketball games. He'll rebound, score down low, shoot the 3, buy your ticket to the Detroit game, sweep the floor, and all the while he'll be smiling at Ricky Rubio: his new favorite player.
Rubio is the second reason Love should win MVP. Rubio has reinvigorated Love's enthusiasm for basketball; Love obviously played well last year, but if not for Rubio there is not a guarantee that Love would have stayed in Minnesota beyond his rookie contract. There were certain press conferences last year where Love sounded morosely disappointed in what his teammates brought to the table, but Love wouldn't dream of leaving now. Rubio is actually the main reason Love should win MVP, because Rubio has fully unleashed Love's potential. Any idea what Kevin Love is averaging since Rubio became full-time starter? 29.2 points and 14 rebounds a game. If he averages anywhere near that the rest of the season and the T-Wolves finish in the top 5 in the West it will be hard to deny Love. And if he doesn't win MVP in that scenario it means LeBron or Kobe somehow scored more than 30 a game and also scored with efficiency higher than 50 percent. LeBron is an outside shot to manage this, but very unlikely.
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