Kevin Love moves up to #4 on Cavs all-time defensive rebounds list

This season has been a resurgent one for Kevin Love, who was active in just 25 games in the 2020-21 campaign for the Cleveland Cavaliers, mostly because of a calf injury.

In that one, much the 2018-19 season, we didn’t see much of Love, and Love didn’t have near the impact one would’ve hoped, given him lack of availability and not being able to get into a rhythm nearly enough, clearly. This season, as we touched on, has been a different story, conversely.

Love has been one of the key cogs for Cleveland from the perimeter, and has blossomed in a shift to a bench role, to preserve him and aid his efficiency, and to allow Evan Mobley to help anchor the Cavs defense in a starting tandem with Jarrett Allen. On the season, Love has had 14.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 21.4 minutes per contest, and he’s knocked in 40.2 percent of his 6.2 three-point attempts per outing.

He has been off in the past handful of games, but was back on in Cleveland’s narrow win over the New York Knicks on Monday, largely thanks to a money third quarter, when he had 14 points and hit 4 triples.

He finished the game with 20 points on 6-of-12 from the field, all of which were from three, and tacked on 11 rebounds. He had three assists, but did admittedly have three turnovers, also; his efforts on the glass I never discount either, though, and that continues to stand out to me.

While Love has not over the years been nearly the offensive rebounder he once was with the Minnesota Timberwolves with Cleveland, some due to him shifting to more of a perimeter player, Love has always gotten it done with the Cavs on the defensive glass. And it was noteworthy in that Knicks game that he ultimately passed Tristan Thompson to move up to #4 all-time in Cavs history in defensive rebounds.

This was cool to see for Love, who has had a nice bounce-back year for the Cavs.

As many Cavs fans would acknowledge, Love’s tenure with the team, even dating back to LeBron James’ second stint with the team, has had its ups and downs.

There’s been trade rumors constantly it’s seemed, and during the 2019-20 campaign, in particular, Love’s days with the Cavaliers appeared to be numbered, and at times prior to this season in recent years, his visible signs of frustration were well, less than ideal.

But objectively, Love has proven to be a crucial player for the Cavaliers over the years, and the way he transformed his game to help fit the team has paid dividends. This season, as we noted, he’s been receptive of a move to the bench, and it’s worked wonders for him, while providing more balance for the overall group, too.

In any case, what again shouldn’t be taken for granted from Love throughout his Cavaliers tenure, to go with floor spacing, and mid-post play, has been his great defensive rebounding.

He’s long been one of the game’s elite rebounders on the defensive end, which has helped the group this season in his time out there, and throughout his time with Cleveland, those boards have led to his share of outstanding outlet feeds resulting in transition buckets as well. LeBron, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and company received a steady dose of those earlier on, and in more recent seasons, that’s aided guys such as Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman, among others.

Love passing Tristan Thompson in that category, who was a heck of a rebounder in his own right, was a big deal on Monday, and it was a cool storyline from that one, even with the game itself being a sloppy W.

Hopefully Love keeps up the terrific work in his minutes out there for the Wine and Gold the rest of the season, and perhaps beyond. He’s currently slated to be expiring after next season.

Congrats on passing TT, though, K-Love!