The Cleveland Cavalier power forward Kevin Love had a rough year last season. He missed nearly 50 games due to a calf injury that simply would not go away. When Love did play, he did not seem 100% healthy, which was shown by some career-low averages of 12.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and shooting only 40.9% from the floor.
Love has certainly declined somewhat over the last handful of seasons, but he still has typically averaged an efficient 17 points while corraling around 10 rebounds. Last season’s averages were just not acceptable for a player reeling in about $30 million per season. Heading into the approaching season, Love’s calf is finally back to normal. He will look to have a bounceback year, even with Cleveland’s crowded frontcourt including Jarrett Allen, the rookie Evan Mobley and the newly-acquired Lauri Markkanen.
Cleveland will need Love to be a good leader this season as well. The Cavs’ roster is extremely young and does not have many veterans to lead the way. Love and Ricky Rubio are really the only two players that will play a lot this season and have a ton of experience. Further, Love is the only player that was a big contributor on a winning team. The Cavaliers’ young core could use some of Love’s valuable advice.
Love headed into the season with a positive mindset
Due to some injury problems and a drop-off in play, Love has been heavily involved in trade and buyout rumors. However, Love seems to be against a buyout right now and appears committed to Cleveland. Love is focused on having a positive mindset this season,
“Listen, it’s a young team, this is obviously where this is headed and where this is going, but what I’m going to try to be, like I told Koby (Altman) and J.B. (Bickerstaff), is a positive force. Wherever this ends up, I just want to make sure that at least internally in here when we walk into this building, that’s positive. When I go to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, I want it to be positive.”
Love seems acceptant of the fact there is a youth movement in Cleveland right now. The longtime Cav being a positive force this season will benefit Cleveland’s roster a lot. Love obviously experienced a winning culture when he won a title with LeBron James in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have been very vocal that their goals are to make the playoffs this season. If Love can take a leadership role and show this young roster what a winning culture is, that would be a huge benefit.
In a sense, it feels like Love knows his playing time will be cut some this year. As of now, no one knows just how much Love’s playing time could decrease, but it will be cut in some capacity with the addition of Mobley and Markkanen. Once again, Love being in a positive mindset will help him accept his decreased role. Rather than be upset, Love can help these young frontcourt players develop.
Can Love return to his past play?
Of course, the lingering question is can Love return to a double-double type of player averaging around 20 points? That seems unlikely with Love aging and struggling with staying healthy. As mentioned, he will have a decreased role this season as well with young frontcourt players fighting for time.
Regardless of the outcome, it will be nice to have Love back and healthy. Love’s season outcome will likely depend on his health, injury after injury has popped up in the last few years. His lockerroom influence is where Love can have a good season for the Cavs. Cleveland has kept Love around for his veteran experience and ability to help their young core along.
Love is just not the player he once was. Nearly no one will probably take Love in a trade due to his contract and a buyout is currently not on the table. Love is here to stay right now for the listed reasons. Cleveland’s team is set for the season, ultimately they gathered a solid roster even with Love’s immense contract. Love can still be a positive influence for this team and help them win some games this season. If he can stay healthy and be a positive influence on the team, the Cavs will likely be happy at this point.
Overall, Love can be a big contributor by being an engaging leader this season. While Love has declined some, he is not a non-contributor at this point. He is still capable of averaging near double-doubles, the question is his efficiency. Love being healthy will help this team and will be a benefit.
“From Our Haus to Yours”