Cavs’ Kevin Love joins 3 all-time greats in milestone accomplishment

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

It’s been a true joy to watch Kevin Love flourish in a shift to a bench role for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, after a few underwhelming seasons in recent years.

Last season, Love only made 25 appearances, mostly because of a calf injury, and while the year prior was more successful, Love didn’t seem to be in the right place, and in the past two seasons, we’ve seen visible moments of frustration from Love in-game. That was in particular, in the 2019-20 campaign, and it was not a pretty sight in those instances.

Fortunately, Love has been far better after undergoing that pivot to a bench scoring role this season for the Cavaliers, and it’s typically given the team a lift. Love has had 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 22.3 minutes per contest, and he’s connected on 39.3 percent of his three-point attempts.

With what Love has provided for this up-and-coming Cavaliers team that has turned a corner this season and is fourth in the Eastern Conference, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to believe he’s firmly in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation. We’ll have to see how the Cavs finish out the season, but thus far, I have to think Love’s made a compelling case.

Anyway, while I’m not glossing over what he’s currently been doing and with how this still very young team is doing heading into the All-Star break, which Cleveland is also hosting, a recent Love shoutout from the Cavs was one that really caught my eye.

It might’ve gone somewhat under-the-radar with a frustrating Cavaliers loss to Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday where the often stingy Cavs defense was off, but this tweet from the team was noteworthy, I thought. Love, who had 21 points in that Hawks game, became just the fourth player in NBA history with 14000 points, 8000 rebounds and 1400 three-pointers made early on in that contest. Only Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and LeBron James have hit those marks.

This was a heck of an achievement from Love, who has long been an elite defensive rebounder and stretch big.

While the injuries have unfortunately piled up for him over the years, and I’m not disputing that things haven’t exactly gone as planned since he signed his monster extension in the summer of 2018, Love has had a great career.

He’s an NBA champ, a five-time All-Star, two of which have been with the Cavaliers, and he was a three-time All-Star with the Minnesota Timberwolves, back when he was more of the focal point for his squad offensively before being traded to Cleveland shortly following LeBron James’ return for his second stint.

Clearly, over the years, most notably since being the Cavs, Love has transformed his style to being more of a stretch big, although I’m not glossing over how he’s still proven to be a quality mid-post player, and he’s still been a viable low-post guy at times. That was on display during the LeBron Return years, for example, and we’ve seen Love take full advantage of cross-matching situations this season, in that regard.

As the above Cavs tweet pointed out, though, Love joined elite company in becoming only the fourth player in league history to hit those aforementioned scoring, rebounding and three-point shooting marks.

Even with him over the years becoming more perimeter-oriented, Love has always been one of the game’s better rebounders, and has been especially impressive in relation to defensive rebounding.

His three-point sharpshooting over time has been so valuable for Cleveland and his overall game as his career has progressed, too, as it was for one of Love’s basketball idols, in Dirk, who quite frankly, revolutionized the game for modern bigs with how he could shoot the ball from way deep. That, combined with his mid-post game, made Nowitzki in his prime nearly unguardable, and while he’s never been the pure shooter of Love or Dirk, LeBron’s strides with his deep shooting have paid dividends for him in other areas as well.

And for what it’s worth, later in his career, Jason Kidd deserves credit for becoming a more viable catch-and-shoot presence, which helped prolong his career and maintain him as an impact player.

However, focusing on Love in this case, this is another noteworthy milestone for him in his career, and that Cavaliers tweet highlighted how Love has impacted the game in a number of ways. Last month, he moved up to #4 in Cavs history in defensive rebounds, and he trails only LeBron in threes made with the Cavs.

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Down the road, I’d imagine Love has a good shot at making the Hall of Fame.