Love is an elite top-five, top-six, top-eight player. No one will remember his winning issues on this team, just as nobody remembers how Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki and other players couldn't win until they did. No one going forward will think of Love in a bad way when he's paired with LeBron.
Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) : You guys have pretty much hit on the major themes. If you look at LeBron's biggest gripe through the years, his biggest pet peeve has been having to shoulder too much of the burden offensively. It's been: "Everything falls upon me and if I don't do it, it doesn't get done." When you add a player like Love, it not only alleviates that scoring burden but also that play-creation burden that we talked about -- his passing from the high post, his outlet passing. Love generates points for others and makes the game easier for teammates.
Again, like Coach Karl and David said, the defense is a concern, but let's not get it twisted: The hard part is adding a player like Love. Getting defensive complementary pieces is a lot easier than getting a top-five, top-10 talent. The fit there is incredible.
Kevin Pelton (@KPelton) : There's no question he's a top-five talent in the league. He was third in the NBA in my WARP stat last season. And he comes out similarly well in ESPN's real plus-minus. It's not just him putting up a box score. He also had a significant effect on the Timberwolves. They were much better when he was on the court -- one of the largest differentials in the league last season. In terms of fit, I think we're all in agreement on this.
But he stands out to me as almost two players in a way. You've got this post player who scores inside and gets second-chance points. He gets to the free throw line. He's as good as almost anybody in the league at doing that. But you've also got the stretch-4/stretch-5 who had the second-best assist rate of any big last season outside of Joakim Noah; and he shoots the 3 really well. When you look at what Boris Diaw did in the NBA playoffs, giving the San Antonio Spurs spacing while still keeping them big at the other end of the floor, Love does those things just as well, if not better. That's why I think he fits with LeBron so well.
Penn: Is there any advanced analytic measure that raises a red flag?
Pelton: It goes back to the rim protection. He had one of the highest opponent field goal percentages on shots around the rim where he was in a position to defend, via NBA and STATS' SportVU tracking last season. But that's pretty much it.
Karl: The Wolves were the worst transition defending basketball team last season. They were awful at getting back defensively.
Penn: I'm with you guys on the defensive concerns. But Love's basketball IQ is just so impressive -- he's such a bright guy. And LeBron is a basketball genius versatile enough to play pretty much every position. With Love, as Kevin just pointed out, basically being two players in one, playing two positions in one, if you will -- when you put the synergy of their basketball IQs together, they'll be able to really pick defenses apart, I think. And with the complementary talent, including this guy Kyrie Irving, it seems like a complete no-brainer.
Karl: Kevin Love and LeBron are going to fit.