Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Kyrie Irving are now the ‘Big 3′, going from South Beach to the Mistake by the Lake. Not only does this mean the Chicago Bulls are being challenged for the Eastern Conference title, but also for the most white guys on an NBA roster. The Cleveland Cavaliers now have five.
Adding Love helps the Cavs tremendously. How David Blatt chooses to use him will be interesting, because only so many players can round out the perimeter. While we wipe Alexander Downs’ tears away, let’s look at how Kevin Love signing with Cavs directly impacts the Chicago Bulls and how they will match up.
Low Post – Kevin Love gets a ton of rebounds. Ok, well, half a ton, but still. Love can stretch the floor, and shoot from behind the arc. He had the 8th most three-pointers made in 2013-14, but had the lowest percentage of those players at 37%.
With Irving, Waiters, and James all in the starting lineup, it’s presumed that new Cavaliers Coach David Blatt will have to keep Love down in the post more. They don’t have many effective pieces they can really slide in at the 4 and 5, and Love won’t be shooting that much anyways with the aforementioned players on the floor.
Defending the Bulls – With the additions of Mirotić and Gasol, the Bulls now have multiple big men that can play at the top of the key. If Tom Thibodeau continues to run the offense through Noah, even with Rose back, that could drag Love away from the basket, allowing Gibson to eat in the post and rebounding. If they input Love at the 4 while Varejao is in the game, that will still allow for the Bulls to get a shooter (Hi, Dougie Buckets) to knock down some threes off of screens. If Thibs inputs Pau or Nikola at the 4 while Noah is in, both big men can also stretch the floor, pulling Love away from the basket.
Does Love Need the Ball? – It’s no secret that Minnesota is almost as terrible as their fans are. Love never had a great deal of help around him, depending on your opinion of Ricky Rubio. So, Love never had a great deal of help around him. With Irving, Waiters, and James all needing the ball, will Love’s true impact really be felt?
When Chris Bosh left the Raptors and joined the Miami Heat, his minutes only went down 2.7 per game, yet he scored three fewer points and had two fewer rebounds per game. Will the same thing happen to Kevin Love? Chris Bosh left after seven seasons in Toronto. Kevin Love is leaving Minnesota after six seasons.
Can Coaching Help Kevin Love’s Defense?
Kevin Love will never be known as a great defender. It would be miraculous if he were even known as a good defender. With his offense, I’m not sure he cares to play hard on the other end of the floor.
Kevin Love has played under the following coaches: Kevin McHale, Kurt Rambis, and a solid job of mailing it in from Rick Adelman. If you don’t know why Rick Adelman doesn’t care, you never watched the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals.
David Blatt has been making a name for himself overseas for decades, earning respect and a reputation for being a player’s coach. He is known for his loyalty to the Princeton Offense, but he also is known to have an eclectic repertoire on defense. Per Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated:
Blatt is most typically considered an “offensive coach, ” but he has excelled on defense too, using a multi-faceted approach that involves both man-to-man and various matchup zones. During the first season of his second head-coaching stint at Maccabi, in 2010–11, he pressed full-court the entire year.
If Love can improve his defense at all under Blatt’s watchful eye, the Bulls may be in big trouble. In games against Chicago, I would be surprised to see Blatt use any strategy besides man-to-man. Can Kevin Love prove Tyson Chandler wrong?
Photo Credit: FoxSports