Before participating in the 3-Point Contest during last weekend’s All-Star festivities, Kevin Love predicted that he would win it. Love trained all week, perfecting his range and shooting motion, and it showed during his last round, sudden death matchup with Kevin Durant. As bad as the Wolves’ franchise has been for almost a decade, it’s nice to finally have things to root for and it’s especially nice to have our town’s Superstar on the national stage, showing his range and accuracy. It’s been such a long time since there have been any positives that this tiny victory for Minnesota basketball fans feels like a big deal. However, I do worry that this win could become a little nuisance. Did Kevin Love gain so much confidence winning this event that he might start shooting 3-pointers at a higher rate?
After the contest, Love was quoted as saying that he wants to be known as a “power player.” “That’s the best way I can help my team, by being a presence inside. That’s how we’re going to able to move in the right direction,” Love said. I hope that continues to be his mentality, because going forward, if the Wolves have any shot of making the playoffs this year, Love has to be in the middle and needs to continue being the best rebounder in the game. A win in a nationally televised contest during the All Star game can mess with Love’s head and give him confidence that might cause him to drift out more onto the 3-point line. I am not necessarily saying this will happen, but this could be a small thing for Coach Rick Adleman to think about.
While Kevin is a decent 3-point shooter (this year he’s at a 34% clip), his role on this particular Wolves team is already defined: he is a post presence that can clean the boards and occasionally spot up for the free-throw line jumper. If he begins to drift out more to the perimeter it will really hurt long term, as our best rebounder will be backpedaling to begin playing defense, instead of boxing out and grabbing offensive boards. The Wolves’ roster isn’t really a good rebounding core in general, so the more Love plays inside the better the team plays. It has to be tough, sometimes, for Love to be as big as he is, not to want to have more fun and shoot threes, but he has to understand that for the Wolves to be able to win on a nightly basis he has to be the inside presence.
I’m not saying that winning the 3-Point Contest was a bad thing, nor am I trying to stir up any panic flags. It’s just something to think about as the Wolves begin the second half of the season. Hopefully, we won’t see Love’s volume of shots increase from the perimeter and he will continue to shoot 3’s in transition and when he’s absolutely wide open to do so. All along, Love has been about winning and he has a very high basketball I.Q. His leadership this year helping all of the new pieces mesh together has been phenomenal, and I am confident that he will continue to grow into the best power forward in the game. I just hope by the end of the season we aren’t nicknaming him “Downtown Love.”