Many around the NBA seem to think this could be a banner year for Kevin Love now that Kyrie Irving is gone.
That’s not to say the Cleveland Cavaliers will be better off without Irving, or that Irving held back Love (not entirely, anyway). Some just think that when Love got the ball in the fourth quarter last season, most of the passes to him were delivered by LeBron James — and only James.
Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto wrote about this very subject in his Sunday notes.
“In the five games where Love played and Irving sat last season, Love averaged 23.2 points and 12.0 rebounds,” Pluto wrote. “In the last three years, when James and Love have played together when Irving sat, the Cavs are 25-10.”
Those numbers say a lot, and as Pluto pointed out, really mean nothing other than Love and LeBron did a nice job when on the floor together, minus Irving.
Granted, the sample size is small. And the Cavaliers power forward will have to do a better job of asserting himself and demanding the ball, especially late in games.
But without Irving, traded to Boston last week, and without injured Isaiah Thomas (obtained in that same deal), there should be more shots to go around. Much of those shots are likely to fall into the hands of Love.
So not only could he have a fantastic year, but the Cavs will likely need one from him. So for Love, if the opportunity increases, so should the productivity.
Here is more out of Cleveland:
- In case you missed it, Cavs shooting guard Iman Shumpert is drawing interest from around the NBA. That seems particularly true of the New Orleans Pelicans, who are looking for help after small forward Solomon Hill suffered a hamstring surgery. Hill is expected to miss six to eight months. Click here for more on Shumpert.
- One rumor making the rounds on social media linked the Cavs to Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins in a potential Shumpert trade. I’ve been told that is 100 percent false — and the teams have never discussed Cousins in any fashion. Realistically, the Cavs will receiving considerably less sizzling pieces and parts in a Shumpert deal.
- Irving’s departure and Thomas’ injury mean Derrick Rose will enter training camp as the top point guard on the depth chart. (Unless you prefer Jose Calderon, and the Cavs do not.) This will be chance at redemption for Rose, who was bypassed several times in free agency and took a minimum deal for a year to come to Cleveland. “It’s imperative Rose stays reasonably healthy, and that is a question mark,” Pluto wrote.
- The Cavs will also invite several younger point guards to camp, including second-year man Kay Felder. But I’ve been told Felder’s chances of making the team are about 50/50. There is a possibility the Cavs could land another veteran combo guard to back up Rose via trade. E’Twaun Moore of the Pelicans is a name that comes to mind — but that is pure speculation at this point.