Out of all the surprises on the Cavaliers roster, perhaps the biggest was Kevin Love turning things around on and off the court. The 34-year-old had a renaissance 2021-2022 campaign, demonstrating just how effective he still is when healthy and how well his skillset suits the Cavaliers’ needs.
Position: Power Forward/Center
Weight: 251 lb
2021-2022 Stats: 74 games played, 22.5 minutes, 13.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game on a 43.0 shooting percentage.
In a season where the expectations have heightened, the Cavs will once again rely on Love off the bench to stretch the floor, rebound and make smart passes. He operates as a sort of hub, meaning that the offense usually went through him in some capacity.
Love had a usage rate of 23.3% last season, per Cleaning the Glass — highest since 2016-17, meaning when he was on the floor with the bench. That may not be the case this upcoming season, as the team has some more depth, but it still has somewhat high usage.
That being said, the Cavs will have to rely on playmaking and smart shot selection to generate points with the bench squad. Love can help with both of those areas, as he is an excellent passer and a knockdown shooter. Players like Isaac Okoro, Dylan Windler and Dean Wade are either limited isolation scorers or reliant on others finding them. While Ricky Rubio and Raul Neto should be able to do that, Love is also more than capable. Defense swarms Love on a three-point attempt or in the post? He can make the extra pass and find the open man.
Having more capable playmakers like Donovan Mitchell, Rubio, and Neto on the roster this upcoming season should help Love out too. He benefits from astute passers finding him off of screens and as a trailer on the break for a pull-up three. He was assisted on nearly all of his threes from last season, and that will ring true once again. Mitchell can collapse a defense as well, which makes Love even more dangerous.
The Cavs gouged some of their outside shooting in the Donovan Mitchell trade, but Love is still one of the best on the roster. He will need to continue being a threat from deep and a vacuum rebounder for the Cavs bench and closing unit to be effective. His fit on the roster is straightforward — knocking down threes and being an offensive hub. Some added depth on the roster should allow Love to take breathers this upcoming season while remaining dangerous as an outside shooter. In his limited minutes last season, Love appeared in 74 games – his most since 2015-16. That level of availability will be important this upcoming season, as the Cavs may be thin on outside shooting if Love misses a substantial amount of time.
But Cleveland has a blueprint that allows for Love to manage his court time and stay as effective as possible. With a young, talented roster ready to carry the weight of the long season, Love is fully entrenched as an ancillary player — a role he is more than suited to fill admirably.