Cavs: What should we expect from Kevin Love with Team USA?

Team USA big man Kevin Love celebrates after winning the gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (Photo by Mark Ralston/Getty Images)
Team USA big man Kevin Love celebrates after winning the gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (Photo by Mark Ralston/Getty Images) /

Kevin Love didn’t have the most memorable season in 2020-21 for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Love was limited to playing only 25 games, mostly because of right injury complications.

Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman also expressed how even after an extended absence/missing most of the first half of the year, that Love probably came back too soon from the calf injury, too.

On the season, Love again was fairly limited and couldn’t seem to establish to a consistent rhythm game-to-game. That was understandable given the circumstances, and the condensed season scheduling didn’t aid things for him.

Love ended up having only 12.2 points per contest, and although his three-point shooting clip of 36.5 percent was decent on the surface, he didn’t have nearly the catch-and-shoot consistency that he’s capable of. Again the injury didn’t help things, and Love played only 24.9 minutes per game in his appearances.

That said, if Love can get himself right this offseason, it’d make a difference for him and the Cavs, as he still is a meaningful floor spacer, an elite defensive rebounder and quality passer.

Now, it was a surprise admittedly that Love was selected to compete and accepted an invitation to play in the Tokyo Olympics with Team USA later this summer, given his injury history, but I can’t blame Love for doing so.

He’s still one of the NBA’s best shooting bigs too, and he did win a gold medal competing with Team USA in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and won a gold medal with Team USA in the 2010 FIBA World Championship.

So what should we expect from the Cavs veteran stretch big with Team USA?

Clearly, it’s tough to be expecting Love to be a key contributor for Team USA in this go-round with them, at least from my perspective.

Love again didn’t have exactly a career year with the Cavaliers in 2020-21, and it’s not as though he’s the Minnesota Timberwolves’ version of himself earlier on in his career before having been traded to Cleveland. Love is getting up there, and at 32, is not the player he once was.

He’s not nearly the caliber of player at this point as the likes of Kevin Durant or Bam Adebayo, for example, others on the Team USA roster that will be in there far more than Love, to that point. Love’s not the contributor of say, Draymond Green, who I’d imagine could very well establish himself as a defensive anchor for this year’s USA Olympic squad too, and is a great rebounder in his own right.

However, a key seller for Love for some rotational minutes is that if he’s fully ready to go health-wise and can establish a nice rhythm in practices before the Olympics reportedly in early July in Las Vegas, his shooting/spacing and rebounding could help his case.

Love, when he’s truly himself, is more than capable of being a knockdown catch-and-shoot player, and if he can get going in one of the first two games for Team USA, perhaps he could get a considerable share of minutes.

We’ll of course have to see in regards to that though, and objectively, with others in the fold, I wouldn’t expect Love to be a really significant contributor game-to-game. He could very well have his moments, sure, it’s just hard to foresee him necessarily being a key contributor.

Granted if Love can have a good run with Team USA and be a key contributor, perhaps that could help re-establish some trade value for him, from the Cavs’ standpoint. Well, while I’d still have my doubts in that way, at least before next season, Joe Vardon of The Athletic (subscription required) in a recent report did state that regarding Love, so maybe that could do so.

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Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how Love does this go-round with in Tokyo and if the USA Men’s Basketball squad brings home the gold once again. That would mark four straight times they’d have done so in the Summer Olympics.