NBA Market Share Report: Kevin Love is Killing It Again
Welcome back for another edition of the weekly NBA Market Share Report. Apologies in advance for the mass amount of hoops notes and numbers you’re about to ensue, but we have to make up for last week’s holiday absence, and I probably missed writing this much more than you missed reading it.
But enough about me.
Let’s do it to it!
Same Old (Kevin) Love
It may have taken a couple years, a league title, and some bro bonding time, but Kevin Love is looking like the Kevin Love of old this season, and that has a lot to do with why the Cleveland Cavaliers are off to their 13-4 start.
While Love’s resurgence may ultimately boil down to things other than ball and hoop -- like confidence, fit, chemistry, happiness -- there’s no denying his role in Cleveland now. With his usage rate back up to a more familiar 26.6 percent, his increased involvement has led to successful and efficient production.
Here’s a look at that increase in raw numbers, taking the averages from Love’s first two seasons in Cleveland and comparing it to this season.
|First 2 Seasons (avg.)||22.55||22.5||16.2||6.8||18.9|
In addition to his new (again) and improved duties, Love’s scoring totals, his efficiency, and even in some regards his hustle has a lot to do with his physical position and where he is on the floor.
Take his offensive work down low for example. In Minnesota, he was averaging upwards of 8 points per game in the paint before seeing a huge drop to nearly half of that at just 4.7 over the past two seasons. And to no surprise, his decrease in offensive rebounding percentage could’ve been labeled both the cause and effect.
This season, however, Love’s offensive rebounding percentage is up 42 percent, and he’s back around 6 points per game in the paint. Sure, we can accurately refer to it as reborn hustle on the glass, which then provides the 15 percent increase in shots inside three feet, which in turn leads to more efficient scoring.
But fundamentally speaking, we’re looking at a guy who’s doing his work closer to the basket than in years past, and he’s absolutely killing it.
Want some more punchy efficiency? Of course ya do!
How about the fact that Love has cut down on two-pointers outside of 16-feet by 3 percent and supplemented that with a 32-percent increase of shots within the 10 to 16 feet range where he’s converting at a 62 percent clip?
Or how about after averaging a career-low 4.2 free throws a game over the last two seasons, Love is getting to the stripe 7 times a game this season and knocking down a career-best 85.6 percent?
Or how about his career-best 42 percent on nearly 6 three-pointers a game?
Kevin Love erupts for 34p w/ a career-high 8 threes to lead the @cavs 81-60 at halftime over the @trailblazers. Lillard adds 15p/5a. pic.twitter.com/d2PIYnAXhP
— NBA (@NBA) November 24, 2016
Talking Kevin Love and these numbers would never get old, but for the sake of page space, we have to keep it moving. Just know that Love’s increased role is paying off pretty well for both player and team alike, as Love appears happy as a clam in Cleveland and the Cavs are getting a team-best 25.6 PER from their third option.
By the way, the ‘Same Old (Kevin) Love’ title is absolutely a Selena Gomez reference.
A Monster in New Orleans
This week’s hoops monster honors go to one Anthony Davis, who’s providing us with nothing more than league-highs in points (32.1 per game), blocks (2.8), and PER (32.5), along with 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals per game en route to 56 FanDuel points a night.
What the what?
If you haven’t had the privilege of watching Davis this season as he tosses his opponents into a frying pan and cooks ‘em, do yourself a favor. The New Orleans Pelicans may not impress you with their current 7-12 record, but they’re also not the terrible team most people probably write them off to be.
Having Jrue Holiday back is huge, and the surprise play of Tim Frazier to start the year has been a nice bonus. The Pelicans will be fun to keep an eye on moving forward, and it’s a rare occasion you come away from a New Orleans game not impressed with the kind of dominance and skill put on display by Anthony Davis.
John Wall Is Still Awesome, Dammit
If you haven’t heard by now, the basketball scene in Washington is pretty gnarly. After whiffing in free agency, naming Ian Mahinmi the team’s top signing, assembling a pitiful bench unit, and crawling out to a 6-11 start, the Washington Wizards are in this awkward state of still trying to figure out what works under new head coach Scott Brooks, while also riding the still-recovering knee of John Wall in front of home crowds of about 428 people.
It won’t come as a surprise that Wall remains the focal point and engine of the Wizards. As one of only three guards with at least 9 double-doubles this season, Wall is averaging 35 minutes and almost 90 touches per game with a usage rate of 31 percent.
He also sometimes does stuff like this.
Our Defensive Play of the Month presented by @LawOfcMPalmeiro is this block from @JohnWall at #WizSuns! pic.twitter.com/ZyJtiYp21U
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) December 1, 2016
Staying true to his slashing style, Wall has actually been even more aggressive on offense this season, averaging 7.6 points per game on 11 drives to the bucket as opposed to just 4.5 points on 8 drives per game last season.
He’s also second only to Russell Westbrook in fast break points per game with six, continuing to assert himself as one of the most threatening players with the ball his hands going full steam ahead.
And as a result of that quickness and aggression, Wall is not only getting to the line more often this year at nearly 6 trips per game, but he’s also knocking down a career-best 82 percent from the stripe, helping to bump him from 20 points per game last season up to 23 so far this year.
GOODNESS, @JohnWall. 😳#WizThunder on @CSNMA pic.twitter.com/BSKeNKXIeC
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) December 1, 2016
We’ve also seen (somewhat surprisingly) improved efficiency from three, where Wall is hitting better than 36 percent from downtown on one fewer shot per game from a season ago.
We also can’t forget about the value FanDuel places on assists and steals, two categories in which Wall doesn’t disappoint via his nine dimes and two steals a night.
On the flip side of that, and to be fair, Wall’s turnover numbers can sometimes eat into his stat lines. While it may have something to do with believing he needs to shoulder all and every load for this Wizards team, his career-high 4.6 turnovers a game needs to be corrected, especially considering the full-point penalty your team suffers for every careless mishandling of the ball.
And that’s all. Just a friendly reminder that despite guys like Jason Smith and Marcus Thornton getting entirely too much run in Washington, the Wizards still have that dynamo guard leading the charge. Wall’s 42.5 points per game over at FanDuel make him a top-10 player, and there’s never any concern over a lack of volume or opportunity.
What the Pelicans Can Do with Jrue
While it’s understandably easy to get caught up in the excitement surrounding a superstar like Anthony Davis, there just so happens to be another guy in New Orleans who is making an impact and helping his team win ball games.
After missing the first 12 games of the season, Jrue Holiday has returned to the Pelicans and seemingly provided his team with a jolt when they needed it most. Before his return to the court, the Pelicans sat at just 2-10 after dropping the first eight games of the season. With Holiday back, they’ve won five of seven, including four in a row to kick off his return.
Because Holiday is still easing himself back into action, we can assume his current 27 minutes a night increases as the season progresses, which makes his usage rate (30.3) even more attractive moving forward. He’s also sporting a net rating of 13.8 thanks in large part to an awesome defensive rating (91) that’s sure to keep him on the floor regardless of Tim Frazier (they’re good together!) and the impending return of Tyreke Evans.
Anthony Davis must be so happy to have Jrue Holiday back. pic.twitter.com/oQf8NWwVUC
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) November 23, 2016
Be sure to keep an eye on Holiday moving forward. The 17 points, 6 assists, 3 boards, and 30 FanDuel points a game all have a strong chance of increasing in the very near future.
And that'll do it for this week! Remember that holiday ham is actually always better than holiday turkey.