In just a few short days, the LeBron James master plan will be finalized when Kevin Love is acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and other assets. When the trade is official, James will have basically replaced Dwyane Wade with Kyrie Irving and Chris Bosh with Kevin Love.
The general consensus around the league is that the Cavs will be title favorites with the addition of Love. Forgive me if I am missing something here, but how is Kevin Love possibly an upgrade over Chris Bosh?
The funny thing about ages and effectiveness later in careers is that nothing is a given – in reality nobody really knows what is going to happen. If everything was assumed based on paper projections then there would never be NBA Draft busts, there would never be upsets and in essence, there would be no reason for fans to watch unless their favorite team was a preseason favorite.
All we can do is go by what we know and when you compare Chris Bosh and Kevin love, here are some of the basics:
Bosh: 30 years old, 11 NBA seasons, 9x All-Star, 2x NBA Champion.
Love: 25 years old, 6 NBA seasons, 3x NBA All-Star.
Now I know what you’re thinking, something along the lines of “but wait until Love is 30 years old and has 11 years experience in the league.” So what’s going to happen? Are we just supposed to assume Love will continue to make the All-Star team every season and will win a title or two because Bosh did it?
Let’s dig a little deeper here with the comparison between Bosh and Love:
Bosh: Chris Bosh has appeared in 796 of a possible 886 regular season games over his 11-year career (roughly 90%).
Love: Kevin Love has appeared in 364 of a possible 476 regular season games over his 6-year career (roughly 76%).
As if the difference wasn’t already alarming, also note that Bosh was sitting out many games over the years resting for the upcoming playoff season. On the other hand, Love’s games missed are a result of being injury-prone through the years.
When it comes to Kevin Love, one thing I am sick of hearing is how it’s “not his fault” that the Timberwolves have accomplished absolutely nothing since he was drafted in 2008. He is an All-Star isn’t he? Supposedly one of the best players in the game? Chris Bosh led his team to respectable seasons when he was THE guy in Toronto.
Bosh: Chris Bosh played in Toronto from 2003-2010. He led the Raptors to three 40+ win seasons and 2 playoff births. The team finished with less than 30 wins only once (2005-06). The Toronto Raptors compiled a 254-320 overall record in Bosh’s 7 seasons with the organization.
Love: Kevin Love has played in Minnesota since 2008. He “led” the Timberwolves to one 40-win season and 0 playoff births. The team has finished with less than 30 wins four times in six years. The Minnesota Timberwolves complied a 153-323 overall record in Love’s 6 seasons with the organization.
I know what you’re thinking, Love plays in the Western Conference while Bosh played in the East. Yes, the competition level in each respective conference does differ, however, 153-323 cannot be justified in any way, shape, or form.
I’ll end this comparison between Chris Bosh and Kevin Love with an evaluation of their game – one that’ll leave the typical uneducated fan ducking for cover. I like to refer to these people as a combination of (1) stat-watchers (people who use standard per game averages to argue their points without considering variables) and (2) ball-watchers (people who when watching the games live, only pay attention to where the ball is and miss everything else that is happening on the court).
Bosh: Anyone who truly follows the NBA knows that Chris Bosh is in the conversation for most clutch player in the league. Time after time he has shown up big when it matters most on both the offensive end (remember the game-winning three pointers at San Antonio and at Portland without LeBron?) and defensive end (remember the game-saving block(s) in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs in 2013?).
What the average fan fails to realize is that not all points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocks count for the same. A player who scores 0 points in the first half and 20 points in the second half outperforms a player who scores 20 in the first half and 0 in the second half.
Anyone who is talented enough to make it into the NBA has the ability to put some points on the board when the game tips off – it is the great ones (Bosh) who are able to battle through the fatigue and adjustments the opposing coach makes in an attempt to keep them in check.
Sure, Bosh will have his fair share of games when he struggles from the field but he has also proven he is not afraid to take the big shot no matter how ineffective he may have been on a given night. This type of confidence is not something we see too often around the league anymore, especially not from a guy who is having a poor game.
The most underrated part of Bosh’s game is what he brings defensively. According to Synergy Sports, Chris Bosh was the most effective defender in the pick-and-roll last season, when he allowed just 0.53 points per play to big-man opponents.
Along with the Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah, Bosh is the most versatile big-man defender in the league today. He has shown the ability to go out and challenge quick point guards on the perimeter and also body up centers in the paint (sometimes both on the same possession).
Bosh doesn’t always fill up the stat sheets when it comes to rebounds and blocks, but his impact on the defensive end does not go unnoticed around the league.
Love: Kevin Love is the classic example of a “stat sheet stuffer.” A stat sheet stuffer is a guy who posts ridiculous stat lines every game, one that fantasy gurus around the world target in their drafts.
The problem here is that often times, a player who is great for fantasy basketball teams isn’t necessarily great in reality. There is no denying that Love puts up monster numbers (26.2 ppg, 12.5 rpg last season), but at what point does that translate to wins?
There’s an old saying that goes something along the lines of “somebody’s gotta score the points and grab the rebounds.” This may sound obvious – it’s supposed to be – but let me give you some examples.
In 2010-11, Michael Beasley averaged 19.2 points per game playing (oddly enough) with Love in Minnesota. The Milwaukee Bucks had 2 of the top 17 scorers in the NBA in back-to-back years (Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings in 2011-12, 2012-13) and won a grand total of 0 playoff games.
Last season, 3 of the top 10 rebounders (Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis) failed to lead their teams to the playoffs. 5 of the top 10 assist leaders (Kendall Marshall, Ty Lawson, Ricky Rubio, Brandon Jennings, and Jameer Nelson) were also watching the playoffs from their couch.
Bottom line – statistics are overrated.
Kevin Love has the statistics, but then again a lot of players do. Does he have what it takes to ball out in May and June when the spotlight is brightest and pressure the highest?
Just because Chris Bosh has proven he has what it takes doesn’t mean Kevin Love will do the same. If he fails to live up to the hype, LeBron may regret his decision to leave Bosh and Miami in the long run. Stay tuned.