Culture of Hoops

2014-15 Fantasy Basketball Outlook: Kevin Love

Image courtesy of nikk_la/Flickr.

Image courtesy of nikk_la/Flickr.

The Kevin Love fantasy outlook for 2014-15 is as hot as he has been in the NBA rumor mill. Love had an MVP-type season in 2013-14, but what will happen if he changes uniforms next season? Will we still see the impressive stat lines that we’ve always been accustomed to? Or will his fantasy value diminish?
Offense
Kevin Love is the most prolific scoring big man in the NBA. The combination of his inside game and long distance shooting makes him a very potent offensive option. During the 2013-14 regular season, he was fourth on the NBA’s scoring list behind Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James.
His 26.1 points per game average was a career best for the 25-year-old ex-UCLA Bruin. Love also shot a personal best .376 from the three-point territory this past season, which was seventh best amongst power forwards. That being said, what makes that three-point stat impressive is the fact that Love’s 190 three-point field goals made and 505 three-point attempts were both the highest among power forwards and centers. The 190 total three-point field goals made for the season was tied for eighth in the entire league. Kevin Durant (192 3FGs) and Love were the only non-guards in the top 10 for total three-point field goals made.
Kevin Love also shot .502 from two-point distance during the 2014 regular season. His adjusted FG% was .524, 11th among NBA power forwards. His .821 free-throw shooting percentage was fourth best among power forwards. However, his 6.8 free throws made per game were the best amongst power forwards, and third in the entire league. Love is the best passing power forward in the game. He averaged 4.4 assists per game during the regular season, for a total of 341 assists on the year.
Defense
Kevin Love was a rebounding monster during the 2010-11 season when he averaged 15.2 rebounds per game. The following season, he was second, only to Dwight Howard, with 13.3 rebounds per game. After Love missed the rebound leaderboard due to injuries in 2013, he returned as the league’s third-best rebounder this past season behind only DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond. The 12.5 rebounds per game average was his lowest in four years, but it’s in this period where he’s drastically improved his three-point shooting.
Love’s 0.8 steals per game is 16th among power forwards. Kevin Love is not a shot-blocker, and his 35 total blocks for the season is only tied for 37th among power forwards. The total defensive game is not Kevin Love’s forte, as he has only modest averages in steals and blocks, but he has been a beast on the boards ever since he entered the NBA.
Miscellaneous
Kevin Love was in a league all by himself in double-doubles last season. He had a total of 65 in 77 total games played. Those 65 double-doubles were 18 more than the second-place Zach Randolph. Love was fourth in the NBA with three triple-doubles. Love’s 136 total fouls for the season ties a career-low and kept him out of foul trouble. Love averaged 36.3 minutes of playing time per game, which was the 11th most in the whole NBA.
Injuries
Kevin Love injured the third and fourth metacarpal of his shooting hand twice in the 2012-13 season. He played a total of 18 games during that season. Earlier in 2009, Love had also injured the fourth metacarpal of his left hand and played just 60 games. Aside from these hand injuries, Kevin Love has been healthy. This season, Love missed just five games.
Kevin Love Fantasy Basketball Rankings:
CBSSports.com – #4 forward
FantasySP.com – #7 all positions, #1 power forward; average drafted #7.73
ESPN.com – #1 PF, average drafted #7
Kevin Love is ranked as the No. 1 power forward on most fantasy basketball sites. He is fourth in the overall forward rankings behind Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. His average draft rank is No. 7. This lofty ranking is expected to remain next season as Love is not yet even at his peak.
Leaving Minnesota
Because Love has chosen not to sign a contract extension, the 2014-15 season will likely be his last in Minnesota. However, because the Wolves stand to lose him without any compensation, rumor has it that they are currently shopping Love to the rest of the league. Another possibility would be that Minnesota holds on to him until the trade deadline of 2015 in order to get the best offer possible.
If Kevin Love isn’t traded during the offseason and remains with the Wolves until the trade deadline, expect him to get the same numbers with the Wolves that he’s been producing throughout his career. If Love is traded in the offseason, then it depends on the team that gets him.
Trading Love
If Love goes to a team like the Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, or Los Angeles Lakers, then Love’s scoring could even increase as he will be focal point of the offense.
LA will have Kobe Bryant back, but he will have to share the rock with Love because there are no other scorers on that team. Love will also be the perfect target for Steve Nash.
If it’s Phoenix, then either Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe will be traded for him, hence the scoring opportunity is also there. Phoenix will have to give up big men as sweeteners, so Love can have his rebounds there too.
The Celtics don’t have much star power, and Rajon Rondo, like Nash, will always find him in a pick-and-pop or spot-up situation. Again, no problem with the stats in Boston either.
If Love goes to the Chicago Bulls, the scoring numbers could decrease with the return of Derrick Rose. Also, since they have a defensive center in Joakim Noah, Love doesn’t have to focus too much on getting the rebounds.
If he were traded to the Golden State Warriors, the three-point statistic could increase since the Dubs love to shoot from downtown with the Splash Brothers. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (assuming he’s not dealt) would have a new brother in Love. His rebounds in Golden State would be the same since David Lee would most likely be gone.
Houston, we have a problem
The most probable Kevin Love fantasy basketball concern would be if he were traded to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have a scorer in James Harden, who takes a lot of shots. They also have a dominant center in Dwight Howard, who corrals a lot of rebounds. So Kevin Love might have an easier life in Houston, but fantasy team owners will see a decrease in Kevin Love fantasy numbers.
Conclusion
At 25 years old, Kevin Love is not yet at the peak of his potentials, but the major concern with him right now is the uncertainty of his 2014-15 destination. The best scenario for fantasy team owners would be if Kevin Love gets traded in the offseason and starts the 2014-15 regular season on a new team. At least then there will be consistency in his numbers. If Minnesota holds on to him until the trade deadline, it could go both ways. Love may play more to boost his value, or he may play it safe to ensure his health considering he’s had injuries in the past two seasons.
There is no question that Kevin Love is a top 10 fantasy basketball player, but until that final destination is made certain, the 2014-15 Kevin Love fantasy outlook is still up in the air.
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