Cavs: Kevin Love-Mfiondu Kabengele pairing could be intriguing

Big Mfiondu Kabengele, then of the LA Clippers, runs back on defense. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Big Mfiondu Kabengele, then of the LA Clippers, runs back on defense. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Kevin Love has recently been back for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and has gotten burn in Cleveland’s past four games. Love has missed most of this season because of complications involved with a right calf injury/reaggravation/soreness.

He looks to be getting himself back in the fold and more comfortable of late, though, and it’s been nice to see. With Love being out there, it’s aided guys such as Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, among others, with the catch-and-shoot threat Love is when he’s out there on the floor.

Plus, as we know, Love is a heck of a defensive rebounder, and he’s a gifted passing big, which has made for an intriguing dynamic in the past handful of games when he’s had run with Dean Wade, too.

We haven’t seen Love in a frontcourt pairing with Jarrett Allen yet due to a concussion sidelining Allen lately, but I’m looking forward to seeing how those two can coexist as well when Allen’s back.

Along with the aforementioned names, a player that could make for an interesting pairing with Love, though, would seemingly be Mfiondu Kabengele, who the Cavaliers are set to sign via 10-day deal on Saturday.

A Love-Kabengele frontcourt pairing could be intriguing for the Cavs in spurts.

I can’t say how much we’ll end up seeing Kabengele, and we’ll have to see regarding when he is cleared for action with Cleveland regarding COVID-19 protocols, but with Allen and Larry Nance Jr. (illness) still likely not nearly 100 percent for a bit, Mfiondu should get a shot early on.

Well, I would imagine that’s the case at least, as Nance had a stretch first starting on March 29 when he, due to the illness, reportedly had lost nearly 20 pounds, per Chris Fedor of, so it’ll take some time for him to be fully back, clearly. Jr. is reportedly getting better, though.

Albeit circling back, Kabengele didn’t have much of a shot in his first 1.5 seasons with the LA Clippers, and only appeared in 12 games as a rookie in 2019-20. He played in 5.3 minutes in those appearances, with 3.5 points per outing. This season, he made 23 appearances for LA, in which he averaged 4.1 minutes per appearance, and had 1.2 points per game.

With the Clippers having Montrezl Harrell/Ivica Zubac last season mostly in there, and this season, having Zubac and mostly Serge Ibaka well in the fold, and with them being a contender, there weren’t many opportunities for Kabengele.

It wasn’t necessarily surprising that, considering that, Kabengele was eventually dealt to the Sacramento Kings near the trade deadline in exchange for a second-round pick and cash, and then Sacramento waived him shortly thereafter.

That said, Kabengele did have 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest with the LA Clippers’ G League Affiliate, the Agua Caliente Clippers, last season. And though the efficiency wasn’t great at a 32.7 hit rate, Kabengele did show some stretch big/catch-and-shoot potential, and in fairness, took 6.0 triple attempts per game.

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That sort of pick-and-pop capability at times, paired with his ability as a roller/lob threat could make for an intriguing frontcourt partner with Love in some spurts.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Kabengele is a good screener, both on and off-ball, and both his rolling presence could help Love in the shooting sense, to an extent, and that spacing boost from Love should aid a big that moves well in Kabengele.

Granted, Isaiah Hartenstein I’d think will get some continued burn with Love in coming games, too, given what the young big has shown.

However, I’d still think that with Cleveland bringing in Kabengele, that to see what they have in him instances at the 5, some burn with Love, given his shooting and passing abilities, could be a solid gauge of what Kabengele could potentially provide.

In addition, perhaps we could on occasion see those stretch big qualities from Kabengele, and maybe Cleveland could even have them a bit out there with Dean Wade even as a jumbo 3 here and there?

That’d be an interesting dynamic in itself, whether it’s with Darius Garland or Matthew Dellavedova at the controls at the 1 initially in possessions.

We’ll of course have to see in relation to how much burn Kabengele will eventually get with Love, but with the current ailments for Allen and Nance, a Love-Kabengele frontcourt pairing would seem intriguing for spurts, even, to me.

That’s factoring in how Love and Kabengele are very good rebounders, too, and with Kabengele running the floor well, and showing rim protection abilities when given the opportunities.

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Perhaps we’ll see those instances in the next few Cavs games here. Regardless, given the two-way potential for Kabengele, I’m a big fan of Cleveland taking a flyer on him.