NBA / Apr 21, 2011 / 11:30 am

I Said It: Maybe Kevin Love Wasn’t The Most Improved Player

Kevin Love

Kevin Love

Earlier today, reports surfaced that Kevin Love was going to be named this season’s Most Improved Player. Just as Derrick Rose is being fitted for this season’s MVP, Love was destined to win the league’s M.I.P. since sometime in February. And to the surprise of no one, he will be given the award officially sometime this afternoon.

Love’s offseason work was a big reason why he’s in this position now:

After finishing his second season in the league as a sixth man, Love worked hard last summer to improve his game. He won a gold medal with Team USA at the world championships in Turkey and went through grueling workouts with Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook at a Los Angeles gym.

“The way he works, you should see how hard he goes,” Rose said. “When we work out we don’t do [any] big-man drills. It’s all guard stuff with me and Russ. It’s amazing how hard he works out.”

This is a great accomplishment for Love, and certainly brings meaning to a season that saw Minnesota finish with only 17 wins. He averaged over 20 points and led the NBA with 15.2 rebounds per game (if you’re an advanced-stat guy, Love was still fourth in the league with a total rebounding percentage of 23.6). He had an incredible 30-30 game back in November, the first in nearly 30 years. He even defied the odds and made the Western Conference All-Star team.

But as is the case with every award, there are arguments for other players.

Tony Allen might’ve been the best defensive player in the league this year, and completely changed an entire team’s philosophy in Memphis with his aggression and unselfishness. His steal percentage, 4.51, not only led the league this year, but it also just missed out on the top-10 ever for a single season. Or how about Eric Gordon and LaMarcus Aldridge upping their pedigree as two of the best young scorers in the league?

What about the players who went from great to all-worldly? I’m talking about guys like Dwight Howard, Westbrook and yes, Rose. Howard developed a game in the post, continued to dominate on the glass and had a second-half of the season that was one of the more dominant runs we’ve seen in the last 10 years. Rose’s PER jumped nearly five points. His three-point percentage skyrocketed to 33 percent. He led the Bulls to the best record, and has shown in the Bulls’ first two playoff wins how far he has come. Westbrook has his bouts with over-aggressiveness and probably tries to do too much given that he has Kevin Durant on his team. But he improved even more than Rose did this season, upping his scoring average by just under six points a game.

Love improved this year, but some of me still suspects he might’ve hit these numbers earlier had Wolves coach Kurt Rambis actually played the man. People forget that last year, Love didn’t even average 29 minutes a game and yet still put up 14 and 11 a night.

Love deserves the award just for the way he gutted out the season, giving everything he had every night knowing Minnesota wasn’t going to win. Rebounding is all heart. To hit the glass like Love did this year is all the evidence you need to realize dude is one of the hardest workers in the league. That heart is the same reason why his PER ballooned to 24.3 this year.

If it wasn’t Love, who else could’ve won the Most Improved Player?

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  • Bizz

    Eric Gordon was already putting up nearly 20 a clip in his first 2 seasons, and the argument you’re using to deny Love the award, could be the same thing used against Aldridge, being that “if you gave him the opportunity to produce, he would produce”.

    D12’s #’s haven’t improved that much, in fact I think his blocks went down, AND was outrebounded by K-Love by a landslide. Westbrook, yes you could make a case for, but it’s the same case you’d have to make for Derrick Rose. Tony Allen became relevant only halfway through the regular season, after he beat up OJ Mayo for his $. The statistical jump that K-Love showed in all aspects of his game were insane, and while you may want to attribute it to an increase in minutes, the more you improve, the more minutes you get. The formula has not changed, it was the same one that got Aaron Brooks the award and nobody gave him issues for it.

  • cesar

    WHAT ABOUT KRIS HUMPHRIES?

    5.6pt / 4.7 reb
    to
    10pt / 10.4 reb + kim kardashian

  • CLAW

    I can’t tell if this is a legit response or an article meant to get a reaction?

    Seriously Tony Allen???? Dwight Howard hasn’t done that much better than last year and has gone down in categories. GTFOH!

  • Simon

    I’m co-signing cesar on that one haha!

  • Yup This Is About Right

    Agree w/ 1 and 3. This is pretty typical of an article on this site – state a mildly-contrarian and/or mildly-controversial position seemingly just for the hell of it.

  • geoff

    DEMAR DEROZAN from (approx) 9 ppg to 18 ppg!!

  • http://dimemag.com/2011/04/i-said-it-maybe-kevin-love-wasnt-the-most-improved-player/ Mike

    -I agree 100%, Love got CONSISTENT playing time this year
    -Last year he avereged 11 RPG playin under 29 min
    -If any of u had been reading Bill Simmons, well he had already predicted Love would lead the league in boards and hit over 40% from 3, while throwin Wes Unseld outlet passes a while back
    -To me the MIP should be a nobody that became relevant/good stater, which would be HUMPHRIES or Dorell Wright

  • 2 cents

    @geoff. i second that vote.

    DD doubled his scoring totals, learnt to be more consistent on both ends. dude is going to be a beast in 2 more years time.

  • http://brokejumper.com/ brokejumper.com

    Love may have put up good numbers but his team was utter crap, all-star nod was a stretch but the MIP should’ve gone to wright of golden state. Kudos to the NBA marketing strategy team.

  • DNice

    Dorell Wright hands down.