As I was tooling around Los Angeles this, former longtime NBA post player and current Laker announcer Mychal Thompson said something on KSPN-AM that blew my mind.
(If you’re going by stats, sure looks like it)
During his weekday L.A. Sports Live show with co-Host Andrew Siciliano, Thompson wondered aloud, “is Kevin Love the best American big man in the game?”
Thompson cited Spain’s Pau Gasol as the best overall post player in the NBA, but after that, he gave every indication that he thought Love was number-two amongst paint purveyors.
Ahead of Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire and anyone else you can name.
As amazing as it may seem, if you were to make the call solely on statistics, Thompson is, somehow, right.
We all know about Love’s prodigious rebounding this season, but he’s also adding 20 points and two assists per game. His 48-minutes-per-game numbers are even scarier thanks to his playing time being notoriously limited by Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis.
But comparing Love and Howard, the latter generally recognized as the league’s best big, isn’t really applicable. The two couldn’t be more different players.
Howard has an unparalleled physical presence in the lane that produces monster shot-blocking numbers Love can’t compare to. Meanwhile, Love is the ultimate finesse player.
Despite the halting progress of Howard’s offensive skills, there’s still some upside there. For now. If Howard polishes his post moves and tones down the brute nature of his overall play, he could one day be as dominant a player as the NBA has seen.
With more playing time, Love’s numbers figure to also improve, but he’s closer to maxing out his potential at this moment than Howard.
What may be a game-changer though in the perception of Love could be his ability to help currently moribund Minnesota move up in the standings. If Jonny Flynn and Martell Webster make a splash with the TWolves in their return from injury and Minny is suddenly a playoff team, there wouldn’t be a GM in the league who wouldn’t take Love over any other NBA big man. Excluding perhaps Gasol.
Say this for Love, at the very least, he and Blake Griffin have me interested in regular season NBA basketball for the first time in a long time. Their stories, at least to me, are infinitely more compelling than what’s happening in Miami.