During the first week of the 2013-14 NBA season, Kevin Love won Western Conference Player of the Week. Love has looked amazing so far, putting up huge numbers and leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 3-1 record to start the season. After missing most of last season with injuries, Love looks to be back and better than ever. So far, he has displayed the same knack for scoring and rebounding that has made him one of the best power forwards in the league, but he’s also shown a new found skill in facilitating. If Love can continue this production, he should be considered one of the top five players in the NBA.
Only three players have ever averaged over 26 points , 14 rebounds and four assists over a season — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. Right now, Love is averaging 26.5 points, 14.3 rebounds and four assists. Obviously, this is over just four games, but those numbers aren’t inconceivable for him to maintain. In his last full season, Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds, and the season before that, he averaged 15 rebounds, so he can certainly hit those numbers again. However, Love has never averaged over three assists per game, so if he’s able to continue to pass like he has, it will mark a huge improvement to his game and put him in truly elite company.
The addition of Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer and the emergence of Nikola Pekovic have given Love better passing targets than he’s had in the past. Brewer and Martin thrive in spot-up shooting opportunities and off-ball cuts. They were both assisted on over 70 percent of their scores last year (per 82games.com). Pekovic was assisted on 65 percent of his scores, but Pekovic is a great, big target for Love to hit down low.
While Love has the tools to keep his assist numbers up, what is really important is that the Wolves continue to win games. Love being a better passer has helped them win so far, which bodes well for the Wolves’ playoffs hopes and Love’s status as one of the game’s best players.