How Tyronn Lue Has Impacted Kevin Love
Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love is having a much better second season with the team than he had in his first season -- that much cannot be denied.
Not only are his per-36 and advanced numbers up, but also he just seems to be fitting in better, both on and off the court.
But has he been maximizing his potential? Is new coach Tyronn Lue prepared to do so? Let's see how the change from David Blatt has affected him in the early going.
Under David Blatt
In the first 41 games of the season, under former head coach David Blatt, Love prospered. Without Kyrie Irving for 26 of those games, Love was the clear number two option for Cleveland, and even with Irving's return, Love posted a Usage Rate of 23.2% -- up 1.5% from a year ago.
How exactly was Love used though?
According to NBA.com, of his 37.5 frontcourt touches per game, Love received 3.8 of those at the elbow, 5.0 in the post and 3.4 in the paint. Though he averaged over five three-point attempts per game, Love took more twos than threes, in large part due to his offensive activity around the key. In fact, he averaged 2.7 makes on 5.2 attempts from within 10 feet, making up 41.4% of his overall attempts.
During this timespan Love averaged 15.7 points on 41.3% shooting from the floor and 36.7% from beyond the arc. In addition to his scoring output, Love was also producing 11 boards per contest.
Even still, was Blatt really getting the best out of Love?
Under Tyronn Lue
Coming into his first head coaching job, coach Lue had a lot of things to say.
He stated his intent to get his players into better shape in order to speed up the pace of the Cavs' offense, but he also put a lot of emphasis on Kevin Love.
He explained that he would look to get Love more post touches and return him to the power player he once was in Minnesota. What Lue said, though, is entirely different than what has happened through the first six games of his tenure.
|Usage||FCt Touches||Elbow Touches||Post Touches||Paint Touches|
As you can see, Love's Usage has seen a slight decline under Lue -- probably because of Irving's continued improvement and integration into the offense. You can't blame Lue or Love there, but it is clear that what Lue wanted Love to do hasn't happened.
Who knows whether it's Lue, Love or anyone else's fault, but while Love is getting nearly four more frontcourt touches per game, he's gotten more elbow touches and fewer post touches since the transition to a higher-paced system.
This might have a lot to do with the pace of play, but if you want to make it a point to get someone post touches, you're going to do no matter the play style. As well they should, too. Since Blatt's firing on January 22nd, Love is averaging 1.056 points per post touch -- which ranks ninth among all players with at least three post touches per game in that timespan.
Although they do need to make more of a concerted effort to get Love in his spots down low, he hasn't been all that bad from the perimeter.
Under his new coach, Love has shown a more deadly side in catch and shoot situations, vastly improving upon his percentages he posted under the recently departed Blatt while also shooting threes more frequently.
It's evident that Love is becoming a more dynamic offensive player with Lue at the helm. He's being asked to get his own from the block and play his part in pick-and-roll or drive-and-space opportunities.
As a result of Love's outstanding play not only recently but all year long, Lue has been outspoken about his star forward as an All-Star snub.
Sure, it's encouraging to see Lue backing one of his key players so early in his tenure, but he shouldn't sweat the small stuff. The Cavaliers are 5-1 in his first six games, and Kevin Love is a big reason why.
It remains to be seen if Love's productivity and Cleveland's winning ways will continue, but we'll just have to take that as it comes one game at a time.