Kevin Love

Is Kevin Love the best player who didn’t make the playoffs in his first six seasons?


Making the playoffs in the NBA isn’t that hard. Each year, most teams do it.

It especially shouldn’t be difficult for a team with a superstar, who really tips the scales in a sport where just 10 players participate at a time.

So, why hasn’t Kevin Love reached the postseason?

Love entered the NBA as a skilled player ready to contribute, and as he’s gotten in better shape and more aggressive, he’s developed into one of the league’s top players. Yet, he’s never made the playoffs

Here are the 25 players with the most win shares in their first six seasons not to reach the postseason (those who spent that entire time with one team in green):


Only Elton Brand, who was drafted by the Bulls and then traded to the Clippers following two years in Chicago, had more win shares in his first six seasons than Love and didn’t make the playoffs.

Love is the best player to spend his first six seasons on the same team without making the playoffs.

That could make him overrated — why has such a good player continuously missed the postseason? Or it could mean he’s paid his dues and should be allowed by the court of public opinion to leave Minnesota without scorn.

There are certainly elements of truth in both sides, but I tend to side with the latter outlook.

Win shares probably overrate Love, who chases rebounds over playing sound defense. Rebounds show up in the box score and are a key piece of the win-share formula, and individual defense remains difficult to quantify.

But the win-share gap between Love and the next-closest player on the list – Pervis Short with the Warriors back in the 80s – is substantial. It’s difficult to believe Short makes that up with aspects of the game not reflected in win shares.

Simply, Love’s situation is unprecedented. Nobody has ever played so well through six seasons without making the playoffs, and it’s because the Timberwolves failed to properly support him.

They wasted time with Kurt Rambis, Jonny Flynn and Wesley Johnson . Even this season, when they assembled an underrated and successful starting lineup, their bench and late-game execution did them in.

Of course, Love is culpable in Minnesota’s crunch-time problems. You can’t easily separate his own issues with Minnesota’s.

But, soon enough, you can separate him from the Timberwolves’.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.