If for some reason you haven’t been paying attention to the first week or so of the NBA regular season, you might not be aware that Kevin Love has arguably been the MVP.
Through the team’s first 7 games, he’s led the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 5-2 record, while averaging 26.9 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. If you want another example of just how good he is, the T’Wolves offensive efficiency rating (points per 100 possessions) is 108.1 with Love on the court. With him off the court, it drops to 72.4. (For further reading on Love’s dominance, check out Derek James’ piece at Hardwood Paroxysm.)
Love is also the only non-point guard in the top 15 of touches per game. (This data – provided by the SportVU cameras – can be found over in the new player tracking section of NBA.com/stats.)
After last night’s game he is sixth in the league, averaging 87.7 touches per game. That’s more than his own team’s point guard, Ricky Rubio, as well as more than Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose and Tony Parker. He’s been so dominant offensively, that he’s been getting more touches than some of the best point guards in the league; and their job is to bring the ball up the court! Sure, he plays a few more minutes than some of those guys, but they are supposed to have the ball in their hands nearly every possession.
Anyway, that’s enough gushing about Love for right now. I could write hundreds of more words about how awesome Love has been this year. You can see it in the stats, you can see it in the highlights, and you can see it in the Wolves’ record.
But something you may not have noticed this year (or throughout Love’s career actually) is that Love does most of his work from only one side of the court. Take a look at the shot charts below. The first one is from this year.
As you can see, Love operates primarily on the left side of the court. While most of his shots come at the rim – as is expected with a big man – nearly all of Love’s mid-range and three-point attempts come from the left side of court.
Just to make sure this isn’t an example of #SmallSampleSizeTheater, I looked at his shot distribution from the three previous years as well. In each case, Love has operated primarily on the left side of the court. In fact, the difference has only grown from year to year, especially behind the three-point line on the left side wing.
In the coming months it should be interesting to keep an eye on Love’s production to see if he continues setting up shop on the left side of the court. Based on his previous campaigns, it seems likely that he will.
All data and shot charts courtesy of NBA.com/stats