Kevin Love | 2013-14 Profile

by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

 Editor’s Note: Throughout the next month, Timberwolves.com will take a look back at the Wolves’ 2013-14 roster individually and look ahead to the upcoming offseason and 2014-15 campaign. Part XIV looks back on Kevin Love’s sixth season with the Wolves, which was also his third All-Star selection.

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Kevin Love

PF | 6-10, 243 pounds

2013-14 season: 77 GP, 77 GS, 36.3 MPG, .457 FG%, .376 3FG%, 26.1 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 4.4 APG

Kevin Love’s season was something to marvel. He was lauded by players and coaches around the league for his all-around offensive play, his combination of grace and force on the boards and his heavily-improved assist totals.

The numbers didn’t lie. Kevin Love put together a season that will go down in history. He’s the first player to record 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 100 3-pointers in a season—and the others don’t even come close. He broke Kevin Garnett’s franchise record for points in a single campaign, and he was not only selected to his third career All-Star Game—he was voted by the fans to be in the starting lineup.

"To be voted in, yeah, that's very big because the fans are what drives this game and allows us to be, you know, globally really solid and a game that they love," Love said. "You know for the fans to reach out and vote me in and to play among my peers that are very well-liked and popular around the world. It really means a lot.”

Love’s biggest jump into the national spotlight likely came during the 2011-12 season, when he was selected to the All-Star Game by the coaches for the first time, put up month of March that still baffles the mind (30.7 points, 13.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 44.9 percent from 3-point range) and became not only a staple of Team USA but a staple of conversations when rallying off the top power forwards and top players in the NBA.

This past year, while bouncing back from an injury-filled 2012-13, he got even better. His February was brilliant (34.0 points, 14.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 41.5 from 3-point range), his dependability on the offensive end was elite and his outlet passing became a talking point for every team that came through town. His ability to get the Wolves out into transition became synonymous with the name Wes Unseld.

He recorded 11 straight 25-point, eight-rebound efforts from Dec. 10-30, which is the longest stretch in the NBA since Shaquille O’Neal did it from March 26-Oct. 30, 2001. And he recorded 30 straight games of either 30-plus points or 10-plus rebounds to open the season, which is the longest such streak to begin the regular season since Bill Walton had 34 straight to begin the 1976-77 campaign in Portland.

The statistics are endless. Love’s game was off the charts in 2013-14, and he was a major talking point for his peers around the league. The fact that he could handle that scouting report pressure and still continue to evolve and improve his game only further explained how impressive Love’s numbers were this season.

“He’s a statistical machine. He’s scoring tons of points, he’s getting tons of rebounds, he’s getting a lot more assists each year,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said in December. “And he’s the main trigger guy. So he’s involved in just about everything, and now they’re playing him at 5, with a sized down lineup causes problems as well because you bring quickness and you bring a more dynamic guy at the 4 position and he’s inside and outside moving all over the place. He just, he gets better and better each year.”

Kevin Love’s Top Games

February 22 at Utah: This one was special because it was the first. Love had flirted with triple-doubles throughout his career, but it had really ramped up over the first three months of the 2013-14 season. He had seven games leading into this particular night in Utah during which he was three assists or fewer shy of a triple-double. This particular night at Energy Solutions Arena was the night he finally cracked that barrier. He shot 11-of-20 from the field—including 6-of-10 from 3-point range—and finished with 37 points. He grabbed 12 rebounds and added 10 assists, with the final coming on an outlet pass to Corey Brewer in transition. Most importantly, the Wolves beat the Jazz 121-104 to win their third game in four tries.

April 2 vs. Memphis: Love helped Minnesota earn a 102-88 win over the Grizzlies in early April at Target Center during a point in time when Memphis desperately needed all the wins they could in order to secure a playoff spot. A lot was on the line for the Grizzlies on this night, and Love made ti a point to make sure the Wolves came away with the victory. He played 36 minutes on the night, shot 9-of-15 from the field and finished the game with 24 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists. He also notched a blocked shot and a steal.

March 28 vs. Los Angeles Lakers: This particular game was Love’s second career triple-double, and it came in just 29 minutes of play and on a night when he didn’t need to play a minute of the fourth quarter in a 143-107 victory. Love was 6-of-10 from the field and 3-of-5 from distance, and along the way he compiled 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. His final rebound came as time expired in the third quarter, ensuring he’d hit the triple-double mark. Most importantly, the Wolves climbed to 3-1 on the year over the Lakers, a rare three-win season over L.A.

April 4 at Miami: This was likely the best win of coach Rick Adelman’s tenure in Minnesota, and it came on the road against the two-time defending champions in double-overtime. This was a full team effort, but Love was steady as always in this contest despite initially feeling as though he wouldn’t be able to play due to back spasms. He hit a major 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in the second OT that put Minnesota up 119-117, and the Wolves were in control from that point forward. Free throws from J.J. Barea and Corey Brewer iced it. Love finished with 28 points on 11-of-27 shooting, 11 rebounds and two assists.

Top Offseason Objectives

Love has made a career out of improving his body and his game each offseason. He’s tireless in that area—each time he comes back to the Twin Cities after working out on the West Coast, he brings a new element to his game. In 2011-12, he returned having lost about 25 pounds and was in peak physical condition. During that same season and into his 2012-13 campaign, he worked on improving his 3-point shooting and has since made two appearances in the All-Star Weekend’s Foot Locker 3-Point Contest. This past year, he returned and brought with him more moves on the block—including a nearly unstoppable baby hook—as well as a heightened ability to facilitate both in the half court and in transition. He’s a dedicated offseason worker, and the only real question is what will he add to his game for the 2014-15 season?

They Said It…

“I’ll tell you, Kevin would have fit in well in that [1980s] era. He’d have fit in well. I like the way he plays. He plays the game the right way. What he does, he makes it easier for people around him.”— Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins on Kevin Love’s game and how it translates across generations