We understand that it is difficult playing in LeBron James’ shadow.
Kyrie Irving didn’t like it after three years and wanted to go somewhere else where he could be “Batman” to someone else’s “Robin”. If winning isn’t first and foremost on your agenda, it can be a pain to be second fiddle to James.
Kevin Love doesn’t seem to mind at all, in fact even we sometimes take him for granted.
During Love’s absence with a broken hand, many Cavs’ fans were complaining about the wine and gold’s .500 record (10-10) without him in the lineup.
Even we feel victim to this, and we have never made Love the scapegoat for any lack of success the team has had since he’s been in Cleveland.
Part of that is the greatness of James, because as a fan you think (and he agrees) that any game he takes part in, the Cavaliers have a solid chance to win.
So, we forget that Cleveland was missing their second best player during that stretch, and besides Love is not only the Cavs’ second best scorer, he’s their best rebounder, particularly on the defensive end, a good passer, and a better defender than most believe.
We are witnessing some slippage in play from Golden State with Stephen Curry missing a couple of weeks with a bad ankle. Houston has been virtually unbeatable with James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela, but they didn’t play nearly as well when Paul missed time earlier in the year.
But somehow, the wine and gold missing their second banana, a five time all star, doesn’t get the same reasoning.
Love isn’t flashy, but he is a great player. And he’s subdued his game since being traded to the Cavs before the 2014-15 season.
Love averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds during his last season in Minnesota, averaging 18.5 shots per game. He’s never come close to that total with the Cavs, but somehow people continue to expect him to score 25 per night.
The most shots per game Love has taken per contest with the Cavaliers is the 14.5 he took last year, a season in which he averaged his most points per game in the wine and gold at 19.0 per night.
Many people have said he’s become a “stretch four” since being James’ teammate, but he took more threes in his last season with the Timberwolves than he has in any season with Cleveland.
This year, he is shooting his highest percentage (46.1%) from the floor since his third year in NBA when he shot 47%.
His three point shooting is at 40.5%, also the best since that 2010-11 campaign with the Wolves, his first year as an all star.
He has even played more at center this season, once again, taking one for the greater good of the team.
It’s not a coincidence that the Cavs have looked a lot better in the past two games with Love back on the floor. It’s funny how that happens when you add a great player to the mix.
And, of course, he hit a huge three in the win over Toronto last night.
He’s underappreciated, gets more blame than he deserves, and his value is sometimes forgotten, but he is one of the NBA’s best players.
The Cavs need him to make a long playoff run again this season. That’s why it is hard to believe Kevin Love doesn’t get the love he deserves.