Cleveland Cavaliers: This is Kevin Love’s time to prove he belongs

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 25: LeBron James
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 25: LeBron James /

In his four seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Kevin Love, but he can put that all behind him this postseason.

After a couple MVP-caliber seasons in Minnesota, Kevin Love was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he ultimately became the third wheel to the superstar duo of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Not only would he be the third wheel, but Cleveland changed the entire dynamic of his game.

It changed in a way that seemed to make Love somewhat uncomfortable at first. Love had to get used to being more of a spot up shooter than a powerful mismatch-making forward on the wing and in the post.

However, this season, as the Robin to LeBron’s Batman, he’s been able to get some of that swagger back.

For starters, Tyronn Lue has finally opted to give Kevin Love the starting center role, and it seems the team has flourished because of it. Love’s played 99% of his minutes this season at the center position, far more than any season in the past.

Could that be a major reason as to why he’s shooting a career-high from three (only counting the seven seasons he’s shot more than three triples per game)?

Love’s percentages have been sky high compared to his previous season in Cleveland. To add to that, he’s done his work on fewer shots too. As the Robin, Love has managed to take fewer shots per game than he has in the last two seasons. On top of that, Love’s player efficiency rating is also at an all-time high for his Cleveland career.

Love’s number and impact always get swept under the radar, but it’s time for him to start getting the love he deserves. And, this postseason, he has the chance to put the entire city of Cleveland on notice. He’s on a platform with a team where he realistically could average over 25 points per game.

While his defense could be an issue, Lue might have to adjust his switching pick-and-rolls and figure out a different way to defend those so Love isn’t stuck on more agile guards. Most big centers these days would get torn up exactly how Love does.

Offensively, Love will be a nightmare for Eastern Conference centers like Myles Turner, Jonas Valanuinas and Amir Johnson, the projected route of centers for Cleveland’s Finals run. That said, with a career-high three-point rate, Love will finally prove he belongs in Cleveland, assuming he can take advantage of these mismatches.

Also, while Love hasn’t been on the court as much this season due to Cleveland’s depth, his scoring has gone unnoticed. Love’s per 36-minute average of 22.7 points is the highest it’s been since his trade.

Additionally, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Love on the court for at least 36 minutes a night. Love has yet to average 20 points per game in an entire postseason, and it’ll be quite a feat for him to do so.

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It’s time to get Love involved, and it’s time to get him the credit he deserves. Love belongs in Cleveland, and if he can continue to provide the production he showed in the regular season, he’ll prove it to not only the fans but all his critics out there as well.