Kevin Love is continually proving to be steadying presence for Cavaliers

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Coming into the season, it was reasonable to be confident that Kevin Love could again be successful. In a move to a supersub role for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, he made his presence felt in a sizeable way.

In 2021-22, he had 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, which, in 22.5 minutes per outing, was a considerable lift for Cleveland. Love gave the bench quite a spark, and he connected on 39.2 percent of his three-point attempts.

The move to a reduced role off the bench paid dividends for Love, in relation to preserving him throughout the season, and for the team overall. For Love’s efforts, he actually finished second in voting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last year, which was not something one could’ve foreseen coming in.

So, heading into this season, I did believe Love would be poised to have another high quality campaign, with him settled into his altered role more, and playing for stretches with Donovan Mitchell had to pay off, too.

To those points, we have seen more of the same from Love. He’s had 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest thus far through 11 games, in which he’s played 20.5 minutes per appearance. In said outings, he’s hit 41.8 percent of his three-point attempts, of which have amounted to 6.1 per game.

Now, Love did start somewhat slow from three, as his five-triple game in a blowout win at the Chicago Bulls in the second game of the season did help his three-point percentages for the first five or so games. He shot 39.1 percent from three in that first-five game chunk of the year, and to a large extent since, he’s had it going.

It wasn’t in Cleveland’s loss on Wednesday night at the Sacramento Kings, but he did get to the foul line in that one, and helper as a ball mover. Still, in Love’s last six contests overall, he’s shot 43.2 percent from downtown, and in three of those games, he’s hit four or more threes. In this chunk of games, he’s averaged 15.7 points, as well, to go with 7.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

Love is continually proving to be a steadying presence for the Cavaliers when he’s in ball games.

It’s not breaking news, but Love is still a crucial player for these Cavaliers, as he’s demonstrated early on this season. We touched on the counting stats for him to this point through the first 11 games, and those have been solid for him in this role, and that ball park of traditional numbers is sustainable for him.

Love is still showing he’s one of the league’s best shooting bigs, and last season, he led the Cavaliers in made triples, with 187, while playing less than 23 minutes per contest. Part of the reasoning for that was due to injuries to others at times, but regardless, his shooting has and will still be instrumental for the Wine and Gold.

So far this season, whether Love has been on from deep or not, his shooting gravity still can help the team in stretches, and he can pull off-ball defenders away, opening up drivers or other shooters as a result.

Additionally, as we touched on, Love is still a meaningful secondary playmaker for Cleveland, and we’ve seen that in this last batch of games, for example. His one-more dishes to shooters such as Darius Garland are consistently on display, and Love’s timing to hit precise dishes on the interior can still lead to door step feeds for Evan Mobley/Jarrett Allen.

So, overall, with what Love provides for the Cavs game-to-game, while he’s not what he once was, per se, it’s clear he’s still a steadying presence for Cleveland, with his shooting impact, defensive rebounding, and with how he aids ball movement.

One has to take it with a grain of salt, considering he’s not playing starting minutes, necessarily, but Love ranking second in the league in cumulative plus-minus so far (plus-110), per, shouldn’t be glossed over.

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Even at 34, Love’s presence on, and off the floor, to that point, has been invaluable for the Cavs. That’s been an early takeaway, despite the Cavaliers stumbling in the past two games.