5 Things Kevin Love Must Do To Win The 2013-14 NBA MVP Award
Kevin Love's 5 Steps To MVP
In the lockout shortened 2011-12 season, Kevin Love was unstoppable. He scored 26 points and averaged 13.3 rebounds per game, and the Minnesota Timberwolves missed the playoffs. Love missed most of last year with injuries, and the Wolves missed the playoffs again. This year Love looks to come back stronger than ever and lead his Timberwolves to the promised land.
In that 2011-12 season, Love finished 6th in Most Valuable Player Voting without a single first place vote. Despite his amazing stats that season, LeBron James did stand above the rest and deserved to win, but Love should have been closer. If Love comes back strong this season, he has the ability to compete for the MVP award. The problem is that plenty of other players have that ability too. LeBron is the obvious front-runner with Kevin Durant right behind him. Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, maybe even James Harden or Stephen Curry could also be in the MVP conversation this spring if they have career years. Love will need to have a career year too, if he wants to be the most valuable player.
It is impossible to predict the outcome of the upcoming NBA season, but we know there will be plenty of amazing players and most of them will play on good teams. Going into this season there are a lot of questions surrounding both Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves. If Love struggles, the Wolves will almost certainly struggle, and if the Timberwolves struggle, Love may find himself on another team before the year is over. But Love and the Timberwolves have looked good so far, and if Kevin Love can do these five things he will be a strong MVP candidate this season.
Kevin Love knows how to pass. In his second year, he averaged close to three assists, but his passing numbers have gone down since then. On a team with more offensive options than they’ve had in a while, Love acting as a facilitator can help the Wolves score more. It is also important to remember that MVPs are usually extremely gifted all-around players, capable of posting a triple-double on any given night. Love has yet to earn a triple-double in the NBA.
4. Play Better Defense
Love must improve defensively to be considered a truly great all-around player. As things stand now, he is a poor perimeter defender, but he isn’t a shot blocker either. He is relatively short with a short wingspan for an NBA power forward, and that certainly doesn’t help him on defense. When he puts forth the effort, he is a decent help defender, and playing alongside a good post defender in Nikola Pekovic should mask his shortcomings a little bit. Love needs to get better, though. While he can’t grow longer, he can work to make sure he is quick enough and conditioned enough to play hard on both ends of the floor.
3. Play Kevin Love Basketball
While there are some areas Love can improve in, Love’s game as it is is really something special. Love is a shooter, but he’s also big. Unlike the traditional “stretch four”, a power forward who provides floor spacing with his competent mid-range and outside shoooting, Love is a gifted rebounder. The combination of outside shooting and prolific rebounding is rare in the NBA, and Love uses both of these talents effectively. Putting up 20 points and 10 rebounds is a perfectly reasonable prediction for this season, and even 25 points and 15 rebounds isn’t unreasonable. And with numbers like that plus some other improvements, it will be very hard for MVP voters to ignore Love.
2. Stay Healthy
Love hasn’t been labeled an injury-prone player yet, but he must avoid that label by staying healthy this year. He played just 18 games last season, and the Timberwolves, their fans, and Love all hope he plays far more than that this year. Love broke his shooting hand twice, which doesn’t appear to have affected his shot much in his limited preseason play. He also had surgery to remove scar tissue from his knee , which likely won’t be a lingering issue. If he doesn’t play, he can’t be MVP and the Timberwolves won’t win many games. If he’s able to play the entire season, the postseason may be within the Wolves’ grasp.
Love and the Timberwolves must make the playoffs for him to be a serious contender in the MVP race. It’s one of the few things he hasn’t done yet in his short career, and whether or not the Wolves make the playoffs this year makes all the difference. Love must prove he can carry a team if he wants to be considered the most valuable player in the league. He can opt out of his contract after this year, and the Wolves may trade him before he has the opportunity to leave if they’re doing poorly. While Love has certainly established himself as a star in the league, he hasn’t established that he can be the main option on a winning team.