You would think that a team that was out of the playoff picture before the season even started would want their young, talented big man to play as many minutes as possible. But Kevin Love started just 22 games for the Timberwolves last season and logged just 28.7 minutes per contest.
Love, a guy selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2008 Draft, averaged fewer minutes than former second-round pick Ryan Gomes and started fewer games than former second-round pick Ryan Hollins. Minnesota was a below-average rebounding team, yet they couldn't find more than 29 minutes for the best per-minute rebounder in the league.
I thought I'd bring to your attention an article running on NBA.com that trashes the Timberwolves for their use of Kevin Love last season. Basically, the author's premise is that Kevin Love is a shining star on Team USA and the Timberwolves were a bunch of clowns for not playing him more minutes. Why the writer feels the need to take pot shots at the Wolves while praising Love isn't exactly clear, but that's basically the gist of things from the opening sentence.
Couple of points here...
For starters, there was that guy named Al Jefferson who started in front of Love last season. You remember him, right? Core piece of the KG trade? Our "franchise" player? Our leading scorer? Apparently John Schuhmann doesn't. Say what you will about Big Al and his flaws, but it wasn't completely ridiculous that he got the starting nod over Love. Even when it became clear that things just weren't working out and that we needed to trade Jefferson, benching him and starting Love would have been a disaster.
Also, comparing the minues that Love, a clear-cut power forward, to those of small forward, Ryan Gomes and center, Ryan Hollins is just ludicrous. If we're going to head out onto that limb, why not complain that Johnny Flynn and Core Brewer played more minutes as well? If you're going to talk about playing time for Love, the only person you can bring into the discussion is Jefferson. He's the player who took the bulk of the minutes at the position Love actually played. Love would have gotten burned at either the small forward or center positions if he played there extensively. I don't know why this point was even brought up, other than in an attempt to conjure up a baseless argument.
Then we get into the whole "per minute" argument with Love's rebounding, which is complete garbage. It's much easier for bench players to put up solid "per minute" stats than starters. A scrub off the bench can come in and play one minute and grab one rebound and they have a better "per minute" average than the starter who dominated the boards and grabbed 30 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. I'm not discounting Love's rebounding ability, but he's probalby not the best rebounder in the league as is being suggested here. Again, everything is just being twisted to make David Kahn, Kurt Rambis, and the Timberwolves look dumb.
The bottom line is that Kevin Love is a solid basketball player who will probably do a great job on Team USA. Barring an unforeseen change, he WILL be the Wolves starting power forward this season as well. Love's bench days are likely in the past and the reason they lasted as long as they did had nothing to do with Minnesota's current regime and everything to do with Kevin McHale, who created the logjam on draft day by trading for Love when we already had Al Jefferson as our starting power forward. Kevin Love certainly deserves the compliment, but I'm just trying to figure out why it was necessary to trash the Timberwolves in the process...