Kevin Love has missed most of the 2020-21 NBA season with a calf injury. Even after returning from injury, Love’s minutes have been limited. He has only appeared in 15 games with a career-low in minutes per game with 22.5 minutes per game. However, Love’s presence on the Cleveland Cavaliers is still important from an experience standpoint.
As mentioned, Love has rarely seen the court this season appearing in only 15 out of 58 games this season. Love’s calf strain has been a problem before the NBA season even started. He missed the season opener, but then played back-to-back games a few days later. The calf injury was reaggravated December 27 against the 76ers.
Love then missed over two months of play during his recovery. He returned March 12 versus the Pelicans, but was very limited playing only 10 minutes. In his second game back, Love’s calf was reaggravated again. Clearly, this calf strain has been an extremely nagging injury for Love this season.
This time around, Love was not out nearly as long as he missed about only two weeks. He returned April 1st against the 76ers, and actually played rather well posting 13 points while shooting 3/6 from three. In April, Love has appeared in 11 games. For now, it seems Love’s calf has almost fully recovered.
In March, Love was extremely limited in his first return from injury. However, things have changed in his recent return from injury. This month, Love has played 20+ minutes in every game. For Cleveland, it is big to have Love back. He has not played at his usual high-level of play, but he is still key to the Cavs.
Throughout Love’s career, he averages 18.1 points and 11 rebounds per game. In the past four seasons, Love has averaged 17 or more points in each season. This season, Love is only averaging 11.7 points while snagging 6.6 rebounds per game. Obviously, Love is not playing at his usual level of output. However, as his health gets better, so should his play. The Cavs forward has still flashed his usual self as he slowly returns to normal. In Wednesday’s win against the Bulls, Love had one of his signature outlet passes. Clearly, Love can still do some things that no other Cavalier can do.
Full court Kevin Love chest pass! 👀 pic.twitter.com/uneOUScH5p
— NBA (@NBA) April 22, 2021
Love’s veteran leadership is vital to this young Cleveland squad. The forward is not producing at a high-level, but his veteran experience still brings a huge value to the team. Young players in the Cleveland frontcourt like Jarrett Allen, Dean Wade and Isaiah Hartenstein can learn so much from Love.
Above all, it is nice for the Cavs to finally see their starting lineup. Since the acquiring Allen, many have waited to see the starting lineup consisting of Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, Love and Allen. Finally, the lineup has materialized. So far the lineup has not made much of a difference, but that could change. Love should improve as he gets healthier, and Allen is coming off an injury as well.
Last, Love helps the culture of the Cavaliers. Love has played winning basketball in Cleveland with LeBron James. The Cavs need players to bring a winning culture, and Love does just that. Clearly, Cleveland has some promising players in Sexton, Garland and Allen, but learning from a veteran from Love can be huge going forward.
All stats courtesy of ESPN and Basketball-Reference.