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Analyzing Kevin Love's lost touch from behind the arc

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Kevin Love hasn't been shooting well at all since the All-Star break.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love is in a funk. Normally a sweet-shooting forward who makes opponents pay for leaving him open behind the arc, Love has struggled to find his range since the All-Star break. It comes at an interesting time too, as he's admitted that he's not totally comfortable shooting so many threes and the Cavs plan on taking a number of threes as part of their offense.

Since the Cavs returned to action after the NBA showcase weekend on Feb. 18, Love is shooting 22.6 percent overall from deep. For the year, he's shooting 34.3 percent from distance. Players shooting around 22.6 percent from deep for the year include Wolves forward Tayshaun Prince, Bucks forward Jabari Parker and Heat forward Josh McRoberts. No one in that range shoots even close to the same amount of threes per game as Love.

The numbers worse when broken down even further. Per nba.com, Love is shooting 20.7 percent on catch-and-shoot threes since the All-Star break, well below his overall season average of 35.4 percent. On wide-open threes - which account for 24.2 percent of his shots - Love is shooting 25 percent from deep. When he's categorized as 'open', Love is making just 9.5 percent of his threes. For the year, Love is making 36.7 percent of his wide open threes and 29.4 percent of his open threes.

When compared to last year and his final season with the Timberwolves, Love's numbers are down:

  • 2013-14 with Minnesota: 37.5 percent from three overall, 39.8 percent on catch-and-shoot threes, 34.3 percent on 'open' threes, 43.6 percent on 'wide open' threes
  • 2014-15 with Cleveland: 37 percent from three overall, 37.1 percent on catch-and-shoot threes, 38.3 percent on 'open threes, 38.8 percent on 'wide open' threes
Love's issues are troubling, as he's in some kind of rut and it's been a month since the All-Star break. The weird part of it is that it hasn't affected the Cavs' offense too much. Since Feb. 18, the Cavs have the league's fourth-best offensive rating and are just a shade worse than the Portland Trail Blazers. In fact, the Cavs' offense since the All-Star break ended has been about two points better than over the course of the entire season.

Part of the Cavs' success is because Kyrie Irving has been significantly better of late than he was early on in the seasonSince the All-Star Break, Irving is shooting 33.7 percent from deep - not great, but much better than where he started - and averaging 21.5 points per game.

Love's also had a part in the Cavs' success despite his struggles shooting the ball. He's moved inside a bit more - he's taking 5.2 percent fewer threes per game while shooting just 0.2 fewer times per game - and generally playing well. He's been a bit inconsistent game to game, but he's also had games where he's been a productive focal point. For example, Love had a standout 29 point, 11 rebound performance against the Thunder on Feb. 21 by doing much of his work from the elbow in.

It's a heavily discussed issue at this point, and may never change, but the Cavs could probably make Love more comfortable and more success by using him at the elbow more and posting him up more. An Al Horford or Marc Gasol type role is there to be had for Love somewhere in the Cavs' offense if they look hard enough and work at it. The bigger issue, though, is that maybe the Cavs don't need that type of role on this team with Irving and with LeBron James.

In time, Love will probably get back to himself and his numbers will go back up the levels we expect Love to produce at. 3-point shots are a high variance shot, so peaks and valleys - even severe ones - are bound to happen. Love's shot also doesn't look broken - his form largely looks good and is pretty similar from shot to shot - so this seems to be an extreme low for Love.

That, though, doesn't make his shooting any less frustrating or problematic in the moment.