Cavs: More mid-post looks for Kevin Love would pay off

Cleveland Cavaliers big Kevin Love looks to make a play. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Kevin Love looks to make a play. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Kevin Love did not have a noteworthy 2020-21 campaign for the Cleveland Cavaliers, mostly because of complications involving a right calf injury. Love was only in action for 25 games, and was inactive nearly all of the season pre-All-Star break.

Love did have some nice performances for Cleveland when he was back in April, and was in a nice shooting rhythm it appeared, but there were too many inconsistencies for him to make nearly the impact he’s capable of having. Love had just 12.2 points per outing, albeit largely because of the injury complications.

Love did end up having a 36.5 percent hit rate from three-point range last season, which wasn’t bad necessarily; there were too many contests when he was not effective for considerable stretches it seemed, though. In fairness, Cavs general manager Koby Altman did touch on how Love he thought even came back from injury too soon initially, and had trouble getting into a rhythm too much.

But even while I wouldn’t foresee him likely playing more than say, 27 minutes per game, given the injury history and others involved in the mix, Love still could rebound.

And even with there having been some frustration shown from Love at times, he is reportedly a believer in Cleveland’s young core, and I do, like Altman, do believe he still can be valuable. Obviously, he needs to be healthier.

Anyway, at least currently, it’s also tough to foresee a potential buyout for Love before next season, with him still having $60 million remaining on his contract with Cleveland; albeit KJG’s own Anthony Farris does want that to play out between the two sides.

Nonetheless, to me, a key for Love for next season aside from him needing to be more consistent game-to-game as a catch-and-shoot three-point shooter, he does need to find more looks in the mid-post.

More mid-post looks for Love would pay off for him/the Cavs.

Last season, he was not nearly as capable in terms of the health issue as he was in 2019-20, when Love was mostly healthy and was in a better shooting rhythm game-to-game it seemed.

He hit marginally better from deep overall then, but Love was very efficient when he was getting to mid-post shots from getting there, and then utilizing ball fakes and jobs leading to quality looks.

There wasn’t a ton more volume for him in relation to those, albeit there was some more in-game it appeared earlier on and have more assertiveness. Love had a bit more frequency at 11.1 percent in 2019-20 as compared to 7.9 percent in 2020-21 on shots 10-16 feet out, and hit 60.5 percent of his attempts the prior season from there, as compared to 40.0 percent last season.

Plus, Love hit 46.7 percent of his attempts from 16 feet to the three-point line, on a 10.3 percent frequency in 2019-20. Last season, on a 6.3 percent frequency, he only knocked in 31.3 percent of those, for further context.

So although again I’m not suggesting Love should have a bunch more attempts in the aforementioned mid-post area, him getting to spots from 15-18 feet or so, leading to shots a bit more, could be meaningful for him.

We saw him get a bit more of those looks game-to-game in 2019-20, and his ability to hit shots off the window in those areas helps him get more in-rhythm at times, and aids him in getting some more free throw attempts after ball fakes.

So early on next season, while he’ll be clearly more of a three-point shooting threat off-the-catch than in the mid-post, him still finding ways to get those looks a bit more could lead to some more consistency in other areas for him.

I also wouldn’t think this sort of thing would take many chances away from other players such as Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, frankly, and if Love hits a few of those looks, his playmaking feel/vision to hit shooters out of those if doubles come can lead to open looks for others.

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We’ll have to see, but I’d think some more looks for Kevin in the mid-post could aid help him more and help get him going a bit earlier on in games next season, again assuming he’s playing for the Cavaliers, which would seem to be more likely than not.