Brandon Roy is averaging 40.5 minutes a game this season to lead the league. Team’s stars usually average 35 give or take a little. Pau Gasol is at 37.4 per game this season for the Lakers, Rudy Gay 39.2, Russell Westbrook 36.4, Paul Pierce 37.2. Then there are guys like Beno Udrh getting 36 per game or Marcus Camby at 30 (at age 36).
Kevin Love is playing just 26.4 minutes per game, despite that he leading Minnesota in both scoring and rebounding. Love is playing more than any other member of the Wolves — Kurt Rambis has gone with an almost college approach where eight guys are getting between 20 and 26 minutes a game — but not as much as other stars on other teams.
While he has been saying all the right things, the lack of run has frustrated Kevin Love, according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard at TrueHoop. He says Love is not alone and quotes scouts and front office people from around the league who don’t get Minnesota’s game plan.
“You have to be on crystal meth not to give Love more minutes on that team,” one scout told me. “It makes no sense.”
Love’s defense usually gets the blame (it did here from comments who said he deserved the limited 24 minutes in the season opener). Love is not a great defender and in an ideal world would be paired with a shot-blocking center (a Marcus Camby type, for example). Minnesota has paired him with slumping Darko Milicic.
But if you’re limiting Love and all the offense and rebounding, you better be getting a lot more defense out of who you’re bringing in. For the Wolves, that is Anthony Tolliver. Last season at the four, Tolliver’s PER against was 1.4 better than Love. He is a better defender. But Love’s offensive PER was 8.2 better.
Those numbers would not be identical this season but it bears out what the eyes are telling us — any defensive improvement is more than offset by the offense lost.
Which is just another way of saying, “Why isn’t Kevin Love getting more minutes?”