Last season, Kevin Love was incredible – he averaged 26 points and 12.5 rebounds per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, after a tumultuous relationship with the team marred by continued and consistent losing, Kevin Love wanted to be traded to a contender, and got his wish this season when he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers to team up with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
Everyone thought the Cavs would be unstoppable and set the world on fire, but that has hardly been the case thus far. The Cavs have struggled to a 21-20 record halfway through the season amid injuries, a lack of team chemistry, and calls for first year head coach David Blatt to be fired.
After enduring a six game losing streak (the first five of which were without LeBron James in the lineup), the Cavs now have won two in a row in Los Angeles against the Lakers and Clippers. However, Love wasn’t fantastic against the Lakers (17 points on 4-12 shooting and 7 rebounds), then sat out completely against the Clippers with back issues.
The blame for the lackluster start to the season has fallen mostly on Blatt, but Love has received his fair share of criticism as well. Some fans have even been clamoring for Andrew Wiggins back (who has been playing very well recently for the Timberwolves) and saying the trade for Love was a mistake, claiming he doesn’t fit well in Cleveland. Does he?
There’s absolutely no denying Love’s immense talent. After all, no one without an insane talent level could put up the stats he did last season. Also, earlier this week, he also became the fastest player in NBA history to reach 4,000 rebounds and 500 3-pointers made in a career. Talent definitely isn’t the issue with Love.
Fitting in with James and Irving has been the issue. Love has always been the star of the team, and all of sudden, he is now the third option on offense, which is a major adjustment. Before the season, analysts said this wouldn’t be a major problem because Love’s game fits naturally next to James. However, his adjustment has been incredibly difficult for Love, as he has put up his worst statistical season since his rookie year (barring his 2012-13 campaign in which he struggled with a hand injury all season).
To be fair, Love has dealt with a back injury for much of the season that he has played through, and this could be part of the reason why he has struggled. He might be best off in the long run if he sits out for a week or two, like James, and rehabs his back.
However, there is no denying Love has struggled in the first half of his first season in Cleveland. Overall, while I do not think Love is a bad fit in Cleveland, he definitely could improve his game and production. There is too much talent there and Love is a good fit next to LeBron, so the fit isn’t really the issue. If Love doesn’t pick up his game, however, the Cavaliers could be in some real trouble later the season, and they definitely will not be crowned as champions.