Kevin Love sounded a little bit lost when he spoke about his role in the offence after Cleveland’s loss to San Antonio on Wednesday night.
The Cavaliers are off to a 5-5 start, and Love — more than any other Cavaliers player — has seen his production take a major hit. He’s getting fewer shots, scoring fewer points, and shooting the worst percentage of his career.
He told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin after the game that he was having trouble adapting to his new role:
“It’s come to a point where I’m just trying to find myself in this offence. It’s almost related to when you come into the league; usually the guys that dominate the ball so much tend to learn a lot quicker than a guy like myself, a big man. So, I’m just trying to find different spots in the offence.”
“Like anything it’s going to take time. I’m not worried about it. I’m not mad at it, don’t feel any sort of grudge or anything like that. I just want to help this team. I think I came here to win and we’re going to figure it out. It’s still early.”
The problem is that Love was the focal point of the offence in Minnesota last year. He could get the ball whenever he wanted, wherever he wanted. The entire offence revolved around him.
That’s not the case this year.
Before the season even began Love talked about how he was concerned that he would be stranded on the three-point line too much and not get enough touches in the post. After 10 games, it’s clear that this is an unresolved issue.
Love is taking just 20% of his shots at the rim (down from 25% last year) and 43% of his shots from beyond the 3-point line (up from 36% last year). He’s also getting to the free throw line three fewer times per game — a direct result of his move from the paint to the perimeter.
LeBron James was asked about getting Love the ball in the post before Friday’s game against the Wizards, and he put the responsibility on Love to “demand” the ball down low. From Cleveland.com:
“It’s the demand. Kevin’s a guy, if he wants the ball in the post, he gets it in the post. If he demands it, we’ll give it to him.”
All of this is sort of besides the point. The Cavaliers have gotten off to a disappointing start, they’re still ranked 4th in offensive efficiency. The problem is that they can’t guard anyone. They’re ranked 24th in defensive efficiency, and it’s hard to see a way that gets considerably better with their current roster.
Their best bet right now might be to try and outscore teams in shootouts. But to do that they need the Kevin Love who was one of the three best offensive players in the NBA last year.
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