Tag Archives: Kevin Love

4 Questions for the Upcoming NBA Season

By Omar Rodriguez

The NBA is back.  The basketball gods are alive again.

Since the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat to claim their fourth ring, a lot of things have changed. The biggest news of course is the return of the “King,” LeBron James, to the Cleveland Cavaliers.  The return comes after his rocky departure and the debacle that was The Decision, where he announced on national television that he will be taking his talents to South Beach.

Along with James, Kevin Love was added to the Cavs roster.  So now with Love, James, and young gun Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers are now the favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy come June.

And there are more new faces in new places.  For example, Paul Pierce to the Washington Wizards, Pau Gasol to the Chicago Bulls, and Chandler Parsons leaving the Houston Rockets to join their Texas neighbor, the Dallas Mavericks.

Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick of the Cavs, had not even played one minute on the team before he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Kevin Love trade.  It’s a good time to be a fan of basketball. With that said, here are some of the questions for the new NBA season.


Will the Cavs Take it All?

Before LeBron James’ announcement, the Cavs were among the bottom 10 teams in terms of winning the NBA championship.  After the announcement, they jumped up to the top five.

And after Kevin Love—aka “the Double-Double Machine”—was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Cavs, Cleveland is now the favorite to win it all.  James, arguably the best player in the league, can make any team a contender.

Now, with an impressive supporting cast including Love and Irving, they are clearly the best team on paper.  The Cavaliers will still have some kinks to work out.  They will still need to decide on a starting lineup, and with James and Love getting plugged into the offense, the players will have to adjust to one another.

Throughout the preseason, the Cavs showed glimpses of what they can be—or are going to be—this season.  The team should only improve as its plethora of superstars mesh with one another.  Kevin Love is coming off a double-double average season with 26 points and 12 rebounds. In Minnesota, he was the lead scorer and the go-to guy for the Wolves.  Can he still be a force now that he will not be the go to guy anymore?  The claims that his defensive skills are lackluster will certainly be under the microscope this season.

Kyrie Irving, the star player before the arrival of James and Love, will have to adjust to being the third option instead of the primary option.  He will still get his touches and his points this season, but will he be what we know he can be this season?  LeBron James will now take those last-second shots for the win, and Kevin Love will be down low attacking the paint.  Will Irving be playing the clean up crew and still be able to be one of the best point guards in the game, or will he be overshadowed?  Only time will tell.

With all that being said, the Cavs are still the ones to topple in the East.  But with the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and hot young teams like the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors on their tails, it should be an exciting Eastern conference shootout.


Can the Spurs Repeat?

The reigning NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs took care of business and beat the Miami Heat in five games.  The previous season, with the Heat and Spurs playing in the Finals again, the Spurs fell apart in the final two games.

It all started with the debacle that was Game 6 where they were up by five points with less than 30 seconds left. They would eventually tie the game and send it to overtime after Ray Allen and his three-pointer. The Heat pulled away in overtime and eventually won game 7 to claim their second straight NBA title.  This stuck with the Spurs, who would soon get their chance to take on the Heat again for the championship.

Of course things would be different.

The Spurs outplayed the Heat and the rest of the Western Conference in the playoffs in 2013.  They finished with the best record in the league.  They were hot.

Along with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker the Spurs still had most of their core.  In the background, Kawhi Leonard was slowly developing and improving with the best team in the NBA.  Leonard had a great playoff run last year, nabbing the NBA Finals MVP.

He is one of the best all-around players in the league.  He is one of the young stars on the aging Spurs.  He is the future of the team.  The core of the team Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker all returned for the Spurs this season.  The most notable free agent for San Antonio this season was not a player this season, but a coach.

The Spurs were happy to announce that head coach Gregg Popovich would return for a few more seasons.  Along with Duncan and Boris Diaw, who decided to return to the team after signing contract extensions, it was obvious that Popovich would stay as well.  The core of the team is still there so they will always be a threat.  Yet nobody talks about the Spurs during the regular season, even though they always finish either first or second in the tougher of the two conference.

Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trailblazers, Golden State Warriors, and the Los Angeles Clippers are always in the mix as well. San Antonio is not a glamorous team that always catches headlines, and they are ok with that.  They let their play do the talking.

With a great coach, seasoned veterans, and a young star, the Spurs will always be in the mix to be in the playoffs, and most notably the NBA Finals to claim their fifth title.  They now have to deal with a new revamped Cavaliers team that has LeBron and Love.


Should Games Be Shortened?

After the NBA announced that it would experiment with shorter game times, the league was unsure what to expect.  The new game would be played in 44 minutes instead of the usual 48.  The first game played with the new time was between the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics.

The average time for a regular game is two hours and 15 minutes.  The new game was played in one hour and 58 minutes. The quarters were now only 11 minutes, and the second and fourth quarters only used two timeouts instead of the usual three.  The time could benefit some players to take some ease off of them for the long season.

Another suggestion around the league would be to shorten the season instead of shortening the games. The season consists of 82 games for each team.  Now the possibility of the season getting shortened is unlikely.  There are clear financial issues that would stop both the owners and the players.

It would not benefit either financially, but will benefit the players giving them more time to rest and play harder with fewer games on the schedule.  It would ultimately benefit the fans of the NBA since the players would be better rested and not as fatigued.

The last time the season was shortened was the 2011 NBA season, and that was cut by means of a lockout that lasted from mid-July to Christmas Day.  The season was now 66 games instead of the regular 82.  The loss of the 16 games cost the owners, league, and its players over 400 million dollars.  So the likelihood of the season being cut down is pretty low.

The time shortage will be more of a possibility but not much of a difference in the eyes of the players and the fans.  The difference of only 17 minutes is not that drastic, so the likelihood of the four-minute shortage is not likely.  The league should try to look at things that can be cut down during the game.

Some of the things that can be worked on is enforcing when timeouts are done, times of free throws, analysis of replays, and delay of games.  Stricter rules should be implemented on these things before moving on to cutting the actual game and season.


Which New Face in a New Place (Besides James and Love) Will Have the Biggest Impact on Their Team?

The reason that James and Love are not included in this section is that we all know that they will succeed.

As stated earlier, the Cavs are the new favorites to win the trophy.  But who else has a shot to have the biggest impact on their team? Pau Gasol with the Bulls?  Gasol was one of the most sought after free agents this past season.  After rejecting the Los Angeles Lakers’ contract extension, Gasol decided to take his talents to the Windy City to join Derrick Rose and the fan favorite Joakim Noah.

The Bulls, now looking healthier than ever, sit behind the Cavs to win the East after adding Gasol and with a healthy Rose.

Then there is “The Truth”—Paul Pierce—joining the high-flying John Wall in Washington.  The Wizards are a little short-handed, so Pierce will most likely be starting this season, unlike like last season where he came off the bench with the Brooklyn Nets.

Another aging veteran who has been moved around is Vince Carter joining the Memphis Grizzlies.  Carter will likely still be coming off the bench, but his services will help the Grizzlies be an even bigger contender in the West.

One of the biggest stories was the previous Houston Rockets’ team being imploded. Chandler Parsons left for one of the other teams in the Lone Star State.  Then there was Jeremy Lin partaking in the Hollywood lifestyle by joining the Los Angeles Lakers, and most likely being the starter after Steve Nash announced that he will be out for the rest of the season due to lingering back injuries.

Then there is Omer Asik flew east to join the New Orleans Pelicans and their young star, Anthony Davis.  Parsons is one of the best small forwards in the league right now and should have an instant impact on the aging Mavericks squad. It’s interesting to see players with new teams, with some leaving entire conferences.  So they will then have to adjust to a new conference and a new team.

Finally, there is Andrew Wiggins, who technically is not a new face in a new place since he has not played one NBA minute yet, having been was traded from the Cavs to the Wolves in the Love trade.

So he changed teams within a few months, and before officially playing one regular-season minute this year, he is still considered the front-runner for rookie of the year.  His Minnesota Timberwolves seem to be taking shape with the Spainiard Ricky Rubio and the former UNLV star Anthony Bennett backing him up.

Wiggins was the first overall pick for a reason.  He now knows where he will play this year, after he was unsure whether he would be a Cav or not.  He now has some additional fire after the Cavs traded him to show them what they missed out on with their first overall pick.

This year’s NBA season should be a good one, with the new big three formed in Cleveland, other teams stacking up their rosters to combat the Cavs, and of course the reigning NBA Champs in San Antonio.  As the season plays out, some of these questions might be answered, some might not.

Can they come out swinging or will they stumble out the gate?  Or will the stumbling happen at the end of the season come playoff time?  The Spurs, no longer the favorite to win, even though they won it all last year, want teams to underestimate them.

They know who they are, and with their mixture of veteran and young talent, it looks like they have the formula to do it again.  The league can also continue to try out the 44-minute game to see if it can actually work.  Now that the crazy free agency has come to an end and we see familiar faces in unfamiliar places, we get to see what they can offer to their new clubs.  Let the threes fly, the dunks slam, the trash talking begin, and the nasty crossovers commence.

The NBA is back.

Omar Rodriguez is a writer for Scouts Alley.


Why Everyone Wins The Kevin Love Trade

By Matt Graber

The last major move of the NBA offseason has finally been made, as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly have a handshake agreement in place to swap Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first round pick for Kevin Love. Here’s a look at how the blockbuster trade affects each team’s future, and how it’s a rare win-win situation.

What It Means For The Cavs: So it’s probably safe to say that the Cavs won this offseason, huh? Adding LeBron James and now Kevin Love has taken the team from perennial disappointment to title favorite. James, Love, and Kyrie Irving give the Cavs a legit Big Three and give LeBron the opportunity to compete for titles now instead of waiting for a young team to mature.

This was a great trade for the Cavs. When you have the opportunity to add a top-10 player to your team, you take it, especially when that team already includes the best player in the world and a 22-year old All-Star point guard. And for all the talk of Love being overrated, or stat-hungry, or a sub-par defender, he’s still one of the best players in the league.

Sure, stats can be overrated and they don’t necessarily tell the whole story, but 26 and 12 can’t be ignored. Love is an elite rebounder, a quality three-point bomber, and one of the best passing big men in the league; the mere thought of Love throwing his brilliant outlet passes to LeBron must have Cavs fans salivating.

The Cavs made the right call in taking Love’s proven production over potential. Wiggins could have developed into a perfect sidekick for LeBron. Anthony Bennett might make major strides this season. But ‘could’ and ‘might’ aren’t really what the Cavs are looking for after signing a 29-year-old Lebron to a two-year deal. Both parties know there is pressure to win now; the Love trade gives them the best chance to do that.

And that’s the new question on everyone’s mind; can the Cavs win it all this year? They seem to be mirroring the Heat’s blueprint for roster construction: flank LeBron with an All-Star on the perimeter (Irving, Wade) and in the frontcourt (Love, Bosh), then use the allure of playing with LeBron to attract battle-tested veterans looking for one last shot at a ring; guys like Mike Miller, James Jones, and possibly Ray Allen, Shawn Marion and Chauncey Billups. Add in youngsters like Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellevedova and veteran forward Anderson Varejao, and the Cavs should have the talent and depth to make a serious run.

They won’t be a defensive juggernaut, as both Love and Irving are lacking in that department. But James, Love, Irving and Waiters will give the team a scary offensive arsenal. They’ll be able to outscore anybody, and they’ll have experienced role players who can still thrive in the playoffs. Love takes them from title contenders to title favorites, making the trade a smart and necessary move.

What it Means for the Wolves: This was the best haul the Wolves could have gotten, even better than Golden State’s offer of Klay Thompson and David Lee. Thompson, while a skilled shooter and sound defender, doesn’t have the potential that Wiggins does, and his game wouldn’t look nearly as impressive without Steph Curry. He’s better off staying in Golden State with his fellow Splash Brother, and the Wolves are better off not paying for two years of Lee at $15 million a pop followed by paying Thompson the massive new contract he’ll likely command in 2016.

Wiggins has the potential to become a legitimate two-way superstar. Whether he’ll live up to that potential remains to be seen, but his floor seems to be quality perimeter defender and decent scorer. If he can improve his ball handling and his shooting, he can become much more than that – he can be a two-way menace. Either way, Minnesota will find out soon enough. Wiggins won’t be a third option on this team – he’ll be a focal point on both ends of the floor and the new face of the franchise. That has to be appealing to a kid who recently said he just wants to go to a team that wants him.

The Wolves won’t be a very good team next year, but they’ll be a hell of a lot of fun to watch. A crafty passer like Ricky Rubio surrounded by athletes like Wiggins, Zach Lavine and Corey Brewer will lead to some breathtaking dunks and entertaining fastbreaks. They’ll be League Pass darlings, not the worst label for a rebuilding team.

Wiggins will join Rubio, Lavine, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, who came on strong last year, to form an intriguing young core. Add center Nikola Pekovic and forward Thad Young (Anthony Bennett to the Sixers for Young seems like a done deal), and the Wolves have a decent collection of talent. Couple that with two first round picks next year, and the Wolves rebuild is off to a quick and promising start.


Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Matt Graber is a writer for Scouts Alley. You can follow him on Twitter @Matt14Graber

A Letter to the Cleveland Cavaliers

By Murphy Powell

Hi Cleveland Cavaliers, I hope you’re doing well. I mean, I know the team is doing well, I just wanted to make sure you were thinking straight. I heard you were considering trading Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett for Kevin Love. I don’t want to second-guess you guys, I mean you’re the professionals here. But you’ve had a lot of opportunities lately. A lot of opportunities, and you’ve squandered them all. Every one. Picking Anthony Bennett instead of Victor Oladipo, for example. So instead of going through with this trade – if that’s what you were thinking of doing – I want to encourage you to channel your inner George Costanza and do the opposite of what you were thinking. You’ve made a lot of wrong moves, so doing the opposite would be the right move, right? I can think of three different things to do with your situation. Let’s think these through. 1) Don’t make the trade. You just drafted Andrew Wiggins. Are you seriously going to deal him right away? Before he even plays a minute on your floor? That’s insane. From what I hear, Wiggins’ game should translate in a great way to the NBA. Could you imagine seeing him and LeBron fly down the court, probably throwing a ton of alley-oops to each other and being super exciting? Well if you trade him, you can’t. Also, Wiggins can be your guy of the future. Think about when LeBron leaves. When he does, whenever that is, you’ll need someone to take over. Who better to do that than Andrew Wiggins? And who better to teach Andrew Wiggins about basketball, and being awesome, and all that business than LeBron? Think: you could have LeBron James, without question one of the top 10 players of all-time, teach the future of your franchise. And all you have to do is not trade that guy. Maybe Wiggins will turn out great. Maybe he’ll turn out a bust. But do you want to be 7 or 8 years down the road and see Wiggins – who at that time could be one of the best basketballers on the planet – leading Minnesota to playoff run after playoff run and wish you had him? 2) Make the trade. Your team doesn’t have a great post presence right now. Love is only 25, and he’s already one of the best big men in the league. He’s a great rebounder, a good shooter and one of the best passing big men there is. You can’t pass up an opportunity to grab one of the league’s best players and pair him up with – probably – the league’s very best player. There’s no need worrying about the future. Love has said he’ll re-sign with you after the season, and having him around will probably keep LeBron happy and in Cleveland. Plus Kevin Love’s uncle is Mike Love of the Beach Boys! Just think of all the sweet surf rock you could bring to Cleveland! 3) Wait. You know what Kevin Love is going to do at the end of the season? Not sign with Minnesota. So you have all the bargaining power. The team you have in July 2014 doesn’t have to be the same team you have in June 2015 while LeBron is probably leading you to the Finals. Just wait this whole thing out. Wiggins hasn’t played for a second. He could turn out to be a great fit with LeBron. If he does, don’t trade him. If they turn out to be awful for each other and just don’t fit at all, trade him. And think about potential injuries. If Kevin Love gets hurt in the first week of the season, you don’t have to worry about it. If Wiggins gets hurt, that’s rough, but your team’s probably still ok. Don’t forget: you do still have Kyrie Irving to pair with LeBron. Again, you have the power here, not Minnesota. You can do whatever you want, and you have until the February trade deadline to do it. Whatever you do, it’s probably not a bad decision. Love is great, Wiggins could be great. LeBron’s definitely great. This is a pretty good problem to have. Take care. Love, Murphy

  Murphy Powell is a creator of Scouts Alley. You can follow him on Twitter @MurphyPowell.