I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Kevin Love is primed for a big season in Cleveland after putting up the third lowest points per game average of his career (16.4) and shooting the worst field goal percentage of his career (43%) in his first season with the Cavaliers. Throughout the course of last season it just felt as if Love wasn’t being utilized correctly, and apparently Love’s teammate LeBron James shares the same sentiment.
James, along with coach David Blatt vowed to involve Love in the offense much more this season, and throughout the first two games of the 2015-16 campaign, it appears as if they’re sticking true to their word.
Love attempted 17 shots in Cleveland’s season-opening loss to the Bulls, and Cleveland’s first play of the game was a set that yielded a paint touch and layup for Love. Last night in the Cavaliers’ 106-76 pounding of the Memphis Grizzlies, Love scored 17 points on 7-14 shooting, and corralled 13 rebounds, marking his first double-double of the young season, which he netted in the first half. That’s a feat he accomplished only once all of last season.
Kevin Love: double-double in 1st half Had just one first-half double-double all of last season
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 29, 2015
When Kyrie Irving returns to the lineup the offensive pecking order may see an alteration, but James reiterated last night to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that Love will remain the Cavaliers’ focal point on offense.
“We’ll use Kevin however he wants to be used,” James said after Love led Cleveland with 17 points and 13 rebounds in the Cavs’ 106-76 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. “I told you Kevin is going to be our main focus. He’s going to have a hell of a season. He’s going to get back to that All-Star status.”
“He’s the focal point of us offensively,” James said. “I know I can go out and get mine when I need it. But I need Kev to be as aggressive as he was tonight, and when he rebounds at the level he did tonight, the shots will automatically fall for him.”
For James, who has logged the most minutes in the NBA since the 2010-11 season and received a shot in his back prior to the start of this year, Love becoming a main fixation on offense is welcomed. Love can alleviate some pressure off of James, and the fact that LeBron is willing to relinquish some of his offensive power to Love illustrates that they’ve made it past the reported issues that impacted their relationship last season.
Love, who missed all but roughly four postseason games last year due to a shoulder injury suffered against the Boston Celtics, looks to be in great shape and ready to take on a larger role for the Cavaliers. As Love rounds himself into full game shape and Cleveland works out the minor kinks that will come with reincorporating injured players such as Iman Shumpert and the aforementioned Irving, he could return to the All-Star form that made him such a hot commodity when he was in Minnesota.
Look out Eastern Conference, the real K-Love might be on his way back.