Myth Busting Kevin Love’s Defense

Dragons, unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, and Kevin Love’s defense have all long been thought to be mythical beings conjured up by the human imagination. Today I’m here to provide references as well as statistics in order to suggest that one of these might not be as imaginary as we all thought it was.

Here are a few pieces from the first article I found:

"The Case for Kevin Love as the Best Power Forward in the NBA"

By Dan Favale

"Long criticized for his lack of defense, Love has taken great strides on that side of the ball as well. His 102 defensive rating ties a career best and ties him for the third-best mark on a Timberwolves team that ranks seventh in defensive efficiency."

"According to (subscription required), the Timberwolves' defensive rating with Love on the court (101.6) exceeds that with him off (103.9), which would mark the first time in his career Minnesota has fared better defensively with him on the floor for two consecutive seasons."

"Opposing power forwards are posting a 15.3 player efficiency rating against him as well, per, only slightly above the league average of 15 and markedly better than the 18.9 he relinquished during his injury-riddled 2012-13 campaign."

A very well written piece that makes a strong case for Love, not just as a great power forward but as a top 5 player in the NBA today, an assessment I tend to agree with. However it is this second article I found that really makes me think perhaps people jumped to conclusions when dismissing K-Love’s defense

"12 Facts about the NBA’s Best Power Forward"

By Keeper of the court

"If you’re familiar with Synergy Sports, you may notice that the majority of Love’s submitted defensive "plays" on Synergy are post-ups. Kevin is formidable in this regard: he is able to use his physical nature and good instincts, allowing only 0.75 points per play, which is good for 30th in the league. We can also look to the fact that Love is in the top four of Minnesota’s top five defensive units, or that his Opponent Counterpart Production is kept to a 17.1 PER which is actually a better marking than Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets (19.2)."

"Kevin leaves things to be desired on defense: he doesn’t cover the most ground or bother the most shots, and his aggression is not at a level where it will jar his opponents. But defensive output hinges a lot on intelligence and effort, and Love is solid in those aspects. It’s no coincidence that publicly available metrics — RAPM, IPV, defensive rating,(must see this link) ASPM, defensive win shares — all describe Love as a positive on defense. Many even rank his defensive output as superior to LaMarcus Aldridge, such as Talking Practice Blog’s IPVd: Love posts a 1.4; Aldridge a -0.1."

And here are some random advanced stats I found:

8th in defensive rebounding % better than Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut, Omer Asik, Andre Drummond, and DeAndre Jordan

25th in true rebound % ahead of Samuel Dalembert, Joakim Noah, and Anthony Davis

323 in steal % ahead of names such as Lance Stevenson, Tim Duncan, Zack Randolph, and Serge Ibaka

Tied for 70th in defensive rating with 103 points per 100 better than Tyson Chandler, Omer Asik, and Anthony Davis

He’s one of the top 3 in 4 of 6 advanced defense stats on his team which grades out as11th in the nba Boston is 14th

If Rondo's Offensive limitations are not enough to prevent him from being a championship caliber point guard then clearly Kevin Love’s Defensive proficiencies should not be enough to "chase away" championship odds. Kevin Love may not be a KG level historic NBA superstar but no one is, in fact the only person remotely close to Kevin Garnett status is Anthony Davis who has also failed to take his team to the playoffs, is on a rookie contract, and won’t be available for trade until well past Rondo’s prime.

The flaws in K-love’s game are strengths of Rondo’s and vice versa so not only are the two compatible but they in fact complement each other. Kevin Love has never had the luxury of playing with a true rim protector behind him. If we are able to land a rim protector either through the draft, trade, or free agency there is absolutely every reason to want Kevin Love as the final piece to the championship puzzle even at the expense of one of the young bigs we currently have on the roster. We have a lot of good players on our roster but only one remaining great player in Rondo. World championships require greatness Kevin love is extraordinarily great and even if we are not fortunate enough to land him here in Boston as basketball fans we should admire what he does night in and night out where ever he plays, so long as it’s not LA or Miami

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