WHAT TO DO WITH KEVIN LOVE?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Four

Kevin Love is a mystery the Cleveland Cavaliers need to solve. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Commentary:

Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers has not worked so far.

This is a guy who have  averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds at one point, doing so with being able to shoot threes, good post presence and just had an overall impact on offense with his passing. Fast forward two years, and he has been relegated to a pick and pop, corner shooter who’s very little to not involved in the offense. And while the Cleveland is leading their conference, their games against the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors may have suggested that they are far from being the top candidate to win the title. Both games, Love has been close to non existent. And that is just a couple of what is plenty of games in his two year stint in Cleveland that he hasn’t resembled the All-Star Forward that earned him a max contract last summer.

What is happening?

Part of it could be is that indeed the very diminished role on the offensive end. Kevin Love has thrived with the ball in his hands, on either on the top of the key, the left block, or on the post, as he did in his days in Minnesota. It’s acceptable to assume that coming in Cleveland, with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on the team, both also needs their share of touches, that someone has to take the burden of taking the less ball dominating duties, and that has been Love. But it can’t be an excuse for Cleveland to not put him in position where he has been successful. Love thirved by playing either on the block or on the high post, also utilizing his post skills and passing. In Cleveland, he’s merely a guy who sets picks and stretch the floor for Kyrie or LeBron to do work. It’s not a bad idea, seeming as he’s a 36% shooter from beyond the arc, but it’s completely nullifying everything else the Kevin Love does that’s good. His Free Throw attempts are down to 4 from 8 per game in his last season at Minnesota, and so as his assists numbers, from 4 a game in his last Timberwolves year, to 2 a game this year with the Cavs. Again, it could be attributed to the lack of touches, but it could also mean under-utilization. Kevin Love gets FT’s while banging his way in the post, and his passing skills on the top of the key a superb, those have been little to no use for Cleveland as he has not been put in a position to take advantage of those skills.

Another, somewhat underrated reason is what sports writer Bill Simmons has suggested in his podcast. In the BS Podcast, he has said that part of the struggles is that LeBron James and Kevin Love are effective offensive players when they are on a certain side of the court, the left side. He mentioned an article by Kirk Goldsberry in 2014, the year the Cleveland big three has teamed up, he had the shot charts of  both LeBron and Love, with the heat maps being on left block. That’s essentially making one or the other give up that side, and it’s certainly not going to be LeBron because he will have the ball most of the times. With James working mostly on the left side, it pushes Kevin Love to the other side of the court, his less effective side of the court, which is not that big of setback, but under-utilizing him again.

What’s making it even more weird, is that for some reason Kevin Love is playing much worse with Kyrie Irving.

Without Kyrie, Love is putting up 17 points, 10 rebounds,  42% FG, 36% 3PT per game. With Irving, it drops drastically to 13 points, 11 rebounds, 38% FG%, 35% 3PT. As well has he played with LeBron, it’s the Big Three playing together is where Love has struggled. Part of it, again, could be not being able to utilize his strengths offensively, putting him in spots he’s not comfortable with, and just an overall diminished role on the offense.

The biggest thing that could make or break the Cavs, is his production defensively, or lack of it. Setting aside the fact that shooters are shooting 4.5% better when defended by Love, but his defensive role. And while it’s looking like they are running away with the East title, the real threat is in the West, with the Spurs and Warriors. It has been seen in the Finals that the Cavs can be vulnerable against the Warriors’ Small Ball Lineup of Death, and Kevin Love isn’t suited to defend said lineup. He’s too slow to recover on his feet, and would be more so against a very agile Draymond Green playing Center. And the Spurs not only have the personnel to run their own Small Ball lineup, they will be willing to do so.

And that might be the setback for Cleveland. Love’s lack of offensive efficiency and not being able to be a piece that could defend the biggest threat they have in winning the Championship.

Kevin Love could be a bad fit for this team.

So how does the Cavs respond? The offensive woes can definitely be fixed, but not having him on the court once the small ball lineup emerges negates whatever offense he could bring.

More so, how does Kevin Love respond? There are comparison to James’ Heat big three and Chris Bosh and the current big three with Love. Bosh, also had his touches and his role on the team diminished, but the big difference is he was willing to work on fitting in, improving his 3PT shooting, and has worked into turning into one good defensive player. Granted that they didn’t have to deal with a lot of small ball lineups then, but Bosh earned his keep. Maybe Kevin Love should do the same?

The Cavs have a $20 million per year player that hasn’t been efficient on offense, and can’t be relied upon on defense. Add to it that the Cavs had some success going as far as the Finals without him, it really begs the question, what do they do with Kevin Love?

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MELO AND PORZINGIS CAN OPEN A WINDOW FOR THE KNICKS

Commentary:

 

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Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Prozingis could propel the Knicks forward. Photo courtesy of hoopshabit.com

 

The New York Knicks, are far from being a contender at this point, but Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Prozingis is starting to look like a duo that can pop open that window anytime soon.

The Knicks, while being 1.5 games out in the East Playoff picture at this moment, has been better compare to their last two disaster seasons mired with injuries, instability and inability to grasp the triangle. They actually look like a basketball team, a squad with competent pieces and has been sharing the ball willingly.

Big part of the transition is rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis, who could be the top candidate for Rookie of the Year honors this season, and the transformation of Carmelo Anthony, arguably the centerpieces of this team.

Melo has been a totally different player. And while his scoring average have dropped this year, his overall impact in the game has been improved. He’s averaging career highs in rebounds and assists per 36 minutes. This year, he has been willing to do the other things that does not involve shooting. Defensively he has been on his best as well, with opponents shooting 6.8% less when being defended by him. Anthony’s transition from being a volume scorer to a willing to defer, leader player has been very beneficial on the Knicks, and more so with Porzingis, who Melo not only was quoted many times in saying that he is the future of the franchise once he calls it a career, but he’s showing it on the court. Only Jose Calderon has assisted Prozingis’ made baskets more than Carmelo does, showing not only a willingness to defer, but showing trust to his teammates, especially to the one who has the potential to be the Knicks’ best player in the next few years, helping his confidence and growth at the same time.

The numbers also show that the Zinger and Melo playing together should be the Knicks’ MO moving forward. They are averaging a good Net Rating of 4.3 when they share the floor, and goes significantly down to a -7.1 when they don’t. They’re also defensively better, logging in a 101.3 DRTG playing together, compare to an abysmal 110.1 when they don’t. Simply put, they play together.

The Knicks isn’t considered to be an East threat as of now, but they have the pieces and the cap room for next year to add to their squad and maybe, FINALLY, they could contend. But it starts with Melo and Porzingis. Carmelo’s transition, continues progression on his new found role, and health, along with Kristaps’ further development would be their main piece, and could possibly open a window for New York, and more importantly, for Carmelo Anthony, as he reaches the twilight of his career. He could get one final run if this progresses.

From a guy who’s only known to be a ball hog scorer and a kid who was booed by it’s fans to begin with, despite being on different ends of their careers, the Knicks have finally found their cornerstones.

BETRAYAL, NOT BEING A MILLENNIAL, IS WHY MARKIEFF MORRIS IS ACTING OUT.

Opinion:

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Stabbed in the back. Photo courtesy of NBA.com

Yeah, the format would be different today. I’ll be ranting more than blogging this time. 

In an interview with the Arizona Republic, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver suggested that Suns F Markieff Morris’ troubles with the organization are a generational thing.

Here’s a quote from his interview regarding Morris setback with the Suns.

“I’m not sure it’s just the NBA,” Sarver said. “My whole view of the millennial culture is that they have a tough time dealing with setbacks, and Markieff Morris is the perfect example. He had a setback with his brother in the offseason and he can’t seem to recover from it.

“I’m not sure if it’s the technology or the instant gratification of being online. But the other thing is, I’m not a fan of social media. I tell my kids it’s like Fantasy Land. The only thing people put online are good things that happen to them, or things they make up. And it creates unrealistic expectations. We’ve had a number of setbacks this year that have taken their toll on us, and we haven’t been resilient. Therefore, it’s up to our entire organization to step up their game.”

So, let me get this straight? Markieff’s problems started because his brother Marcus has been traded to Detroit. That all their life, they have been playing together, and now they have been separated. That, along with his generation that grew up in the 2000s is indeed one of the perfect examples of an entitled millennial. After all, Markieff is a pro, and before he even got into the NBA, he must have known for sure that trades happen, and that there’s no certainty in the NBA except getting salaries despite playing or not.

Robert Sarver has a point, a great point if that’s the case, except it isn’t. Has he forgotten that the Morris twins took a paycut to stay together? They signed (yes, it’s THEY) a 4 year / $52 million deal that they divided amongst themselves, with Markieff making more. But to them it didn’t matter.

“It didn’t matter if it was me getting $5 million and Mook (Marcus) getting $8 million,” Markieff said. “We told them it didn’t matter. If they just put $13 (million) a year for the Morris twins, that would’ve been great. They wouldn’t even have to say our names.

“We’re $52 million players.”
(Per AZ Central.com)

Of course it didn’t matter who made how much. I mean, they share the same bank account. It all goes to the Morris twins, that’s all that mattered. What it mattered is they played together, they stayed together.

They could have signed somewhere else, both of them, for more money , especially Markieff, who has been the better twin before the extensions was negotiated. Also, with the way he’s playing, had he waited and reached Restricted Free Agency, it’s not out of the realms of possibility that he could make $52 million in 4 years, on his own. But in order to remain in the same team, for their entire career (or atleast the next 4 years) they sacrificed earnings. Of course, Phoenix happily obliged. Why not? They get lower market value for a player who’s supposed to make more, saving them not just cap room, but literally saving Robert Sarver in salary expenses.

And then the Detroit trade happened, in which Marcus was traded out of nowhere, which infuriated Markieff. After that, he requested a trade, he wanted out of Phoenix. I mean, can you blame him? It may not be a professional thing to do, but with the deal they made with Phoenix, can you really blame him for wanting out of an organization who played not just him, but his brother.

Is it still millennial privileges as to why he was upset that his brother is now all of a sudden playing in the East?  Is it really as simple as the Internet culture?

Robert Sarver, you can’t be more wrong about this. Your team betrayed your players, and you blame it on entitlement? All the twins wanted was to play together, to the point that they were willing to sacrifice money. Heck, they could probably sacrificed more than that just to wear the same jersey, to live in the same city. You think it’s his generation’s ideals that’s causing the flare ups, completely ignoring the fact that your team STABBED the twins in the back. This just proves that silently, your Phoenix Suns is poorly ran. Giving a massive contract to a declining Tyson Chandler is one thing, completely reneging on a deal in place, where the players took the back end of the deal, is another. Yes, your team may have done a favor by taking Marcus in the first place, but you can’t blame it being a millennial when one of your players felt betrayed because your team made a deal and didn’t come thru.

Gladly, Markieff responded well.

“I’m from Philly. I’ve been through adversity my whole life. That’s what I’ve got to say about that.”