Kevin Love was one this off seasonâ€™s biggest free agent attractions, and fortunately he chose to remain in Cleveland to continue to chase an NBA Championship. We all know that Kevin is a star as he has been voted to the All-Star game 3 times, however he missed that game last year. It is not clear if Kevin will get back to the 26 points and 12 rebounds numbers that he averaged 2 years ago but below are 5 things that Kevin can improve on before the start of the 2015-2016 season.
5. Work on staying active on offense and become better at moving without the ball-Often times Kevin was caught camping out behind the arc. He looked a bit uninvolved on the offensive end, and that happens to be the end where he excels most. A lot of this may not be Kevinâ€™s fault. For some reason Cleveland never found a way to best incorporate Love into the offense last season. Coming off career numbers the year before of averaging a double-double at 26 and 12, Kevin seen a dip in his numbers last year at 16 and 9. Even if a play is not drawn up for Kevin, he is too good of a player to fall asleep on offense. Kevin is a very talented passer and should play more from the elbow, and run more pick and pops from midrange.
4. Go INSIDE big man-Love is considered a stretch four and he is a very capable 3 point shooter but at 392 attempts, last season Kevin shot more 3 pointers than Dirk Nowitzki. 41% of Kevinâ€™s shot attempts came from behind the 3 point line. At 36% he is not terrible but there is no reason at all why he should be shooting more than Dirk from the outside. With his footwork, soft touch and variety of post moves, it is a total disservice to both Kevin and the team to use him as a sole spot up 3 point shooter and quite frankly 113 million dollars is a lot to pay for a pick and pop shooter. When it comes to scoring with your back to the basket, there are few better than Love. If he gets the ball down low, he knows what to do with it. He was one of the most efficient players in post upâ€™s even more efficient than Damarcus Cousins and LaMarcus Aldridge. This obviously is difficult to pull off with LeBron in the game, as Bosh went through a similar dilemma with James in Miami but a solution would be to run the offense through Kevin when LeBron sits down for rest. This will take pressure off Kyrie and allow Love to slow the game down and go to work inside, where he has proven to have the ability to flourish.
3. Play with strength-Kevin is no slouch on the glass, as he is a very willing and able rebounder but he can stand to get stronger on offense and defense. Following a season ending shoulder injury in the first round of the playoffs, Kevin dropped his weight down to 238 from around 260. The leaner Kevin should be even more crafty around the glass but it will be interesting to how this impacts him on defense and offense from a strength perspective. Itâ€™s no secret that he will be competing against bigger players, and he will need a high level of strength to go along with his finesse. Kevin should work on going up stronger on offense and punish his opponents down low at a higher frequency. With the severity of his shoulder injury, it is imperative that he rehabs that shoulder and get stronger for the coming season
2. Become one of the guys and stay positive-It’s no secret, Kevin Love and LeBron James are not best friends. That is completely fine but more than once, Love looked uncomfortable and out of the loop with some of his teammates. Kevin doesnâ€™t have to be a social butterfly but it would probably pay dividends to team chemistry if he was more social and active with the guys. None of us are in the locker room so we have no idea who he talks to, but from the outside Kevin appears to be a loner. Kevin could also work on maintaining a poker face and displaying better body language. When things didnâ€™t go his way in the game or if he wasnâ€™t getting enough touches, his frustration was obvious. Kevin has to find a way to be effective, even when he is not getting the ball like he would like. If Loves works on staying positive and focused on the goal, he and Cleveland will be successful.
Work on defensive footwork and instincts-Defense is no easy challenge but far too many times, Kevin was a liability on the defensive end last year. Kevin struggled a lot with his lack of strength and slow feet. This off season Love should work on his defensive mechanics, instincts and strength. He must work on staying down, anticipating and his lateral movement. He is no Anderson Verejao but he has shown his ability to take charges, however he should do a better job with using his physicality and making opponents feel him on defense. Love also has to defend the pick and rolls better. If he is going to switch off to defending the guard, Love has to improve his footwork. A thinner frame, should allow him to do just that. His defense has been a careerÂ deficiency but with a commitment to getting better, I trust that Love can be a solid defender down low.
With this improvement Love should prove to be worth every penny of that 113 million dollar contract.