Last year was a strange one for forward Kevin Love, as he struggled to find his role in a Cleveland Cavaliers offense that already had two superstars. But this season, it looks like Kevin Love might just be THE man in Cleveland.
There have only been three games so far in the 2015-16 season, but Love seems far more involved in the offense than he was last year. He’s second on the team in points (19.7), first in rebounds (11.7) and second in field goal attempts (15.3). Compare this to the previous season, when Love averaged 16.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG and 12.7 shot attempts in roughly the same number of minutes (32.8).
As if the numbers aren’t evidence enough, Love has a vote of confidence from his world-famous teammate, LeBron James.
“We’ll use Kevin however he wants to be used,” he said. “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. 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.”
There were a lot of offseason questions surrounding whether or not Love would even be back in Cleveland. He had trouble fitting into an offense that already included Kyrie Irving and James. Furthermore, there were some awkward moments during the season where LeBron and Love had minor public feuds. Much of this was brought on by James’ comments that Love needed to be more aggressive when looking for his own shot.
“He showed why he’s one of the best power forwards in our league,” said James. “We need to continue to ride his coattails.”
Perhaps LeBron’s words mean something here because Cleveland looks like they’re at least treating Love as an equal to James in offensive sets. Head coach David Blatt has also done a better job of helping Love succeed by letting the power forward play in the post more.
“I knew I’d be looking at different spots on the floor,” Love said. “I welcome that.”
Now the big question is if things will remain this way or if they’ll change as the season moves along. James is still the lead dog on the Cavaliers and will take over whenever he feels like it. Then there’s Irving, who will be back from injury and command the ball quite often too.
But then again, last year was LeBron’s most-punishing season as he carried Cleveland through the playoffs and into a Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors. The Cavs predictably lost since injuries to Love and Irving proved too much. Now that the team is healthy again, Cleveland has other players who can carry the load. So it’s very possible that Love could remain the Cavs’ top scoring option throughout the 2015-16 season. Then…when the playoffs begin, expect James to take over again.