Blogprint for the FutureUnfortunately for Wolves fans, this time of year has
been the most exciting over the past three seasons.  It’s a time to
speculate on what steps your team can make to get back to the playoffs
and start making some noise.  In negative news, the Wolves and their
"braintrust" got the 3rd pick in an advertised two-man draft.  In
positive news, we have positive debate in the forums on what to do with
the pick and it’s good to hear we don’t have to listen to a
country-music station to listen to the Wolves next year.

With all of the debate raging over what to do with the draft pick, it’s
important to remember that the Wolves have to make some decisions on
its existing roster.  Here at the Twolves Blog, we want to continue the
discussions about this teams direction with in our series, the
"Blogprint for the Future," which will include contributions from
various TWolvesBlog contributors and guests, as this team transforms
during the off-season.

Contributors to this edition:

College Wolf
Jon Marthaler from TNABACG

Previous Editions of the Blogprint:

#1: Our #3 overall Lottery Pick and Wolves Free-Agents.

#2: What is the time frame on the Wolves becoming contenders?
#3: Updated thoughts on the #3 overall pick & KG’s Legacy.
#4: Thoughts on the 2008 NBA Draft.

In today’s edition: The Summer League just recently concluded, and Kevin Love was pretty much unanimously considered one of the unofficial "first teamers"  by  all media/bloggers/writers/etc that covered the event.  My colleagues and I discuss our thoughts on how he performed and what his future holds.

Please click "Read More" for the analysis of this edition’s topic.


Blogprint For The Future #5: 

"How would you rate Kevin Love’s performance during this year’s Summer League?  Do you agree or disagree with all the national attention he is receiving?  How do you think he will do this upcoming season?"

COLLEGE WOLF:  Even as a wishy-washy KLove fan (as of yet), I’d still say that he merited a solid “A-“ ranking from his summer league play.  He dominated the competition, to the tune of averaging 20 points and 13.5 boards per game.  I hate to be Debby Downer, but the fact cannot be forgotten that he was playing against some of the worst competition that he will face throughout the rest of his career.  Heck, he played games last year at UCLA that involved greater talent than some of these guys.  90% of those summer leaguers will never play in the NBA, and 95% or so will never see significant NBA minutes.  Therefore, one needs to take his stats with a grain of salt and realize they should not expect more of the same when the season rolls around.  He did the things that he needs to be doing, such as boxing out, rebounding, making some superb passes, and knowing when to shoot.  These aspects of his game will carry over to any level of competition and cannot be discounted, despite the painfully inferior talent he was playing against.  I think even I could have grabbed a few boards against some of those jokers.  Granted, the number five overall pick in the NBA draft SHOULD obliterate big men that have no business putting on a uniform, let alone playing in the NBA, but he has at least proven to most of his detractors that he is worthy of his chance to play in the Association.  On the other hand, what was up with Corey Brewer’s atrocious showing?  On second thought, let’s just move on.

 Because of the stigma he has already received being labeled a “fat, slow white guy, he absolutely deserves accolades for his summer league dominance.  Even though there is no official “Summer League First Team”, he’s pretty much unanimously been named to every “All Summer League Team” that I’ve seen.  Some writers suggested he was worthy of being the tournament MVP.  I am not sure I’d go that far, but he did exceed my expectations for him going into it.  As for negative national attention (and really, only Chris Mannix comes to mind ), all I can say about that is… egads!  It’s understandable that some fans/writers will question the level of success he will have in the NBA, as well as how he fits in next to Al Jefferson, but Mannix’s thoughts are pretty baseless and, and quite honestly, pathetic.  I’m holding off judgment until the pre-season games at the earliest.  Not until then will we be able to start getting a true measure of whether or not Love belongs in this league.

I think it goes without saying that Love has about a 0.01% chance of replicating his statistical summer league success in the NBA this season.  And no, that’s not a knock on him by any means; but only a fool would believe he’s going to come in and average 20 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.   As I’ve said, he will actually be playing against players that deserve to be playing at the highest level, and it could be a struggle at first.  By any means, I’m not saying that he’ll never find success during his career, but fans shouldn’t expect him to come blazing out of the gate and tearing up the league.  With that said, would it still be a successful season if he played meaningful minutes while averaging a solid 10 points and 8 or so rebounds per game? Of course it would.  And that’s about what I see for him this year.  He’ll play hard and hopefully provide some exciting full court outlet passes, while helping Big Al with the dirty work and rebounding like a fiend.  I think he’ll struggle adjusting to the NBA game at first, and his defense is still a concern; but at least he knows where he stands, and by all indications it appears that he is a geniunely good fellow that wants to improve and help the team win.  You can’t ask for much more than that.

Kevin’s Summer League performance showed there’s more to love about him than just the line beard. [image2]

I’m extremely satisfied with Kevin Love’s Summer League performance.  He was arguably the second-best player in the entire competition, and he (dare I say it?) outperformed OJ Mayo.  He clearly showed a knack for grabbing rebounds and making hustle plays to open up scoring opportunities for his teammates. His much-heralded outlet pass was fully on display and made many Wolves fans salivate at the thought of him launching one of those to a streaking Randy Foye or Corey Brewer this season. To put it bluntly, you really couldn’t have asked for any more out of Kevin Love during Summer League.

That being said, Love’s summer time dominance gives means absolutely NOTHING in terms of his ability to replicate that success in an NBA game.  I’ve simply seen too many examples of players who light it up in Vegas and then fizzle out when the regular season rolls around.  All that summer league really serves to do is weed out the players who can’t hack it.  I mean, if you can’t drop a double-double against five scrubs fighting for the opportunity to be the Milwaukee Bucks’ 15th man, how are you ever going to have success in the NBA?  On the flip side, performing well only proves you can hang with the wannabe’s.  It says nothing of your ability to actually roll with NBA-caliber competition.  So while I’m happy that Kevin Love isn’t a complete stiff, I’m going to reserve judgment on his NBA future until he actually plays a regular season game.

To answer the second part of the question, I do think that Love deserves the national attention he’s been getting.  With the top two "studs" in the draft, Rose and Beasley, not participating in the Summer League, the stage was set for the next crop of guys like Mayo, Bayless, and Love to shine.  Kevin certainly performed well enough to warrant the spotlight, and his unique style of play really stood out.  If he does end up making it big in the NBA, I’m pretty sure Love will end up being a huge favorite of old-timers who love his rebounding and passing ability.

As for me, I’m starting to get slightly excited at the prospect of having another "favorite" Timberwolf named Kevin.  I sure loved the first one.

TheOldLogo:  "How would you rate Kevin Love’s performance during this year’s Summer League?"
I would rate is as good, and promising. The consistency of his stats was the promising aspect.  From everything I read (I didn’t get the opportunity to watch), he put up good numbers doing the same things every game that made him successful.  On top of all that, he openly acknowldeges his deficiencies and has stated an intent to correct them.
"Do you agree or disagree with all the national attention he is receiving?"
I suppose I agree.  I’m not a big racial conspiracy theorist, but I think the NBA and other media outlets have been waiting a long time for an opportunity to market a good, American born, white player who appears to be a good guy and has some personality.  Kevin Love has the potential to be all those things.
"How do you think he will do this upcoming season?"

Love will do fine.  He will be a good rebounder and scorer, and he will sruggle defensively depending on the matchups.  Basically, I think everything that’s objectively written about Love’s strengths and weaknesses in the national media is probably spot on.  That makes it much easier for a coach to make a game plan around.  With Love and Jefferson, you have two players every game that are going to probably get consistent numbers by consistently doing the same things on a consistent basis, and consisten(t)cy is important for winning teams (by request, I can write "consistent" or some derivative of several more times to make my point).  I also believe that once Love discovers how to defend in the NBA without drawing a foul, he will be a consistently passable defender, especially for what you get offensively (and consistently on offense, at that).  Love will consistently have nice rebounding numbers.

ANTHONY:  Well, I can’t complain. Love performed at a very high level during summer League, and I’d tend to believe that the praise he’s been receiving from the national media is well-deserved. The guy was a beast on the boards (especially the offensive glass), and he displayed an
absolutely amazing passing ability. Generally speaking, Love was very effective when within three or four feet of the basket on offense. He picked up a few too many fouls away from the basket on the defensive
end, but for the most part, I liked the effort he displayed defensively. It was a job well done for Love in Vegas — the four performances he turned in were hardly pretty, but we saw a fundamentally sound player who was poised and played within himself.
However, when evaluating the Summer League performances of Love and the rest of the guys on the Wolves’ Vegas squad, let’s be cautious — putting too much stock into these games can be a huge mistake. Nikoloz Tskitishvili looked unstoppable when he played on the Wolves’ Summer League team in 2005, and although he proceeded to make the roster that season, Skita played a total of 13 minutes for the Wolves during the regular season. Yes, Love’s performances in the Summer League are worth examining simply because they’re the most significant exposure to NBA basketball he’s had thus far, but it’s extremely difficult to use Summer League performance as a means of projecting regular season
With that being said, it’s hard to say what we can expect from Love this season. It’s foolish to even compare the bigs Love faced in Summer League with the bigs he’ll face when the games actually count, and I’danticipate some struggles early on. He’ll need ample time to adjust to life in the Western Conference, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a contributor in his rookie season. I think we can still expect to see him make the hustle play, the extra pass, and the put-back off a missed shot, but I’m much more concerned with what Love can bring to the table two or three years down the road than this season. We’ll see what happens — but so far, things are looking good for Love.

JON MARTHALER:  "How would you rate Kevin Love’s performance during this year’s Summer League?"

I would rate Kevin Love’s performance as "decidedly better than Corey Brewer’s performance." Of course, at the moment this is akin to rating Love as "somewhat taller than Prince," so perhaps it’s not the best comparison.  Still, I’d say Love’s summer excellence – especially that highly-exciting 26-and-15 against Portland – is about as good as we could have hoped for.  Not only did Love play competently, he shone – which can’t be anything but good for his near future with the Timberwolves.

"Do you agree or disagree with all the national attention he is receiving?"

I’d have to agree – especially after the way the draft went down.  Love’s now inextricably linked with OJ Mayo, despite the other pieces in that draft-day deal, and if he had laid an egg in the Summer League there would have been insistent questions – especially among Wolves fans – about whether the team made the right move in trading for him.  Instead, there’s actually some excitement about the youngster’s prospects for 2008-09.

"How do you think he will do this upcoming season?"

Not as well as he did in the Summer League, of course.  (For one thing, you’re not allowed to commit seven fouls in an NBA game.)  Love has major strides to make on the defensive end, and in terms of the level of competition he’ll be facing, well, summer school is out.  But he showed flashes of the player the Wolves thought they were getting – the talented passer, the decent basketball mind, etc. – and so I’d have to say that he will have a solid, if middling, rookie season.*

*Note: If his knees don’t fall off his body around January 15, that is.

Feel free to leave comments and/or continue the discussion below.  Also, there is a discussion thread for this article in the TWolvesBlog Forums.  Feel free to sign up and check it out.

–  CW



College Wolf

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