In our ongoing NBA Front Office series, Tom Penn (general manager), George Karl (coach), Amin Elhassan (scouting director) and Kevin Pelton (analytics director) are joined by NBA Front Office's senior consultant, David Thorpe. Today, the group weighs in on the agreed-to trade that will eventually send Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Among the topics considered: how Love fits next to LeBron James.
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George Karl ( @CoachKarl22) : There's the idea that he hasn't produced wins, but LeBron's currently the greatest winner and the greatest player in the NBA. He makes other players winners. So I think the fit is perfect. You're probably going to have to find a big man to defend the rim a little better, or a defender, or a shot-blocker. Anderson Varejao -- if you keep him, he certainly helps that defensive problem.
What you'll get in Love is a stretch-4 or 5 who can rebound, shoot, and add other aspects to the game. He's improved his passing immensely.
I just think this is a situation that -- I'll be honest with you -- I think LeBron probably talked about this before he decided on going to Cleveland. They said they could go and get Love. LeBron said, in so many words, if you get Love, I'll come.
David Thorpe ( @CoachThorpe) : Love's outlet passing might be the most important aspect of his game, from Cleveland's point of view. Corey Brewer led the league last season in transition buckets playing next to Love. Almost all of those scores came from Love's outlets, not Ricky Rubio's passing.
LeBron is obviously a far superior player to Brewer -- he's one of the fastest wings we've ever seen. He's going to score a ton, and in ways easier than he has in the past. This is an opportunity for LeBron to maybe not bang as much in the post, if they play fast, because of the opportunity in the outlet.
Also, I'm thinking about the different plays Love ran in Minnesota, with lesser players than LeBron, and how those plays become so much more effective now. The Wolves would throw it to Love, he would step out and they would screen in front of his man to let him shoot the 3. Or they'd run a handoff. That all becomes a lot more dangerous now. They'll also be able to get him involved in the pinch post in a way that very few players can. It'll look somewhat similar to what the Miami Heat were able to do with Chris Bosh. We all know how successful LeBron was playing next to him.
This is an amazing fit. I do think they need help defending the rim -- above the rim, specifically, as Coach Karl talked about. But you can't not do the deal because you're afraid of not finding that guy. Varejao will work for the time being and they'll have a window to go find other pieces that complement those two, plus Kyrie Irving at the point.