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Kevin Love = Larry Bird…Heresy! E-mail

Unfortunately for Kevin Love, it appears he has inherited the basketball version of “The White Man’s Burden”. I’m not referring to the 1899 Rudyard Kipling ode to imperialism, but the inevitability of a skilled, white player being compared to Larry Bird. Perhaps Kevin, Michael Smith, Danny Ferry, Tom Gugliotta, Keith Van Horn, Austin Croshere, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. can start a support group. Hey guys, how about WALL (We Ain’t Larry Legend) – an acronym that would clearly indicate your inability to match the heroics of Mr. Larry Bird. Bottom line, any comparison of Kevin Love and Larry Bird is an absurd one.

First, I can simply give this one the “eyeball test”. Bird and Love are very different players merely based upon having seen both of them play. Some glaring differences:

Body type – Love’s much wider.
Position – Bird was a 3 or 4 who could handle like a point; Love’s a 4/5.
Shooting – Bird was a phenomenal outside shooter, Love shoots solid-for-his-size, but pedestrian, 35% from the college 3pt line. Yes, I’ve seen the full-court shot footage, and no, I don’t believe that it’s relevant, despite its impressiveness.
Passing – Love passes well, for his size, Bird’s one of the greatest passers ever to play the game, regardless of position. Love’s assist to turnover ratio was about even this year, Bird, at his peak, was about 2.5 – 1, averaging about 8 assists a game.
Ball-handling – Bird could play as a point-forward, Love never will.
Clutch – Love was last seen wheezing his way up the court against Memphis. Bird was a stone-cold killer in big games, as evidenced by his 2 NBA Finals MVP trophies.
Defense – Bird was 3X NBA All-Defense 2nd Team. He averaged about 2 steals a game for his career, which is outstanding. He wasn’t shutting people down, but he was great at positioning and playing the passing lanes. Love is slow, his arms are short, and he didn’t even average a steal per game in college. He will be an average defender, at best, at the next level. Bird, at his peak, was certainly an above-average defender.
Draft status – Bird was so great that he was taken 6th overall when the Celtics knew they’d have to wait a year for him; Love is projected as a late lottery pick, at best.

 

There are a few similarities:

• Skin color
• Rebounding #’s
• High basketball IQ’s, though I’m not saying Love matches Bird
• Post-scoring, though I’d certainly give Bird an edge here as well

Now that I’ve broken down how Love differs from Bird, I’ll break down why he won’t match Bird’s success at the next level. First off, I’ve already presented a mountain of evidence as to why Kevin Love, as a 6’9”+ white guy, will NOT succeed in the NBA. This is detailed very thoroughly in a previous column, “No! Not the Big White Guy!”. Also, Love’s college numbers pale in comparison to Bird. Granted, Bird was almost a one-man show, while Love was on a very talented UCLA team, but that being said, I still regard Bird as the far superior college player. Finally, Love’s 0.7 Steals Per Game and 1.4 Blocks Per Game are very low numbers for a prospective pro, indicative of the lack of athleticism that will hurt him at the next level. The following is a chart of Love’s stats compared to a random sampling of other players who put up similar college #’s:

College Stats (Career highs, not averages, except for shooting percentages)

Player PPG RPG APG SPG BPG FG% FT% 3PTS 3PT%
Kevin Love 17.5 10.6 1.9 0.7 1.4 56% 77% 29 34%
Troy Murphy 22.7 10.3 2.1 1.4 1.7 50% 78% 30 34%
Michael Bradley 20.8 9.8 2.6 0.9 1.8 68% 54% 12 35%
Travis Watson 14.3 10.4 2.2 1.5 1.3 52% 64% 7 32%
Brad Daugherty 20.2 9.7 2.1 1.0 1.3 62% 70% N/A N/A
Jason Collier 17.2 9.2 1.6 0.8 1.4 46% 71% 32 37%
Brian Cook 20.1 7.6 2.0

1.2

1.4 51% 79% 28 34%
Nick Collison 18.5 10.0 2.2 1.2 2.2 56% 62% 13 36%

As you can see, Love does have a couple of things going for him here, as his rebounding #’s are superior, he’s one of the better free throw shooters, and he’s also the only one on this list to come out after his freshman year. He’s also regarded as a great outlet passer, which is something that won’t be quantified in the assist #’s most of the time. The glaring weakness of Love’s is those overall defensive numbers, indicating an inferior athleticism to players like Troy Murphy, Brian Cook, and Nick Collison. His closest comparison defensively is Jason Collier, who had a bad pro career. The only above-average NBA player on the above list is Brad Daugherty, who was a very different athlete and player than Kevin Love. The closest professional comparison will, in my estimation, probably end up being Troy Murphy, who’s been a solid player on mostly losing teams.

Kevin Love will be a solid pro. I envision him, in a best-case scenario, as the 2nd or 3rd best player on a good team. He brings enough skills and intangibles to be an above-average power forward in the NBA; slightly superior to the more athletic, but less skilled, Troy Murphy. If Love plays 10-15 years, contributes to some playoff teams, and perhaps plays in an All-Star game or two, he will have had a good career and have proved himself worthy of being chosen between the 5th and 15th picks in this year’s draft. That’s a fine career, and one that could certainly happen if he’s in the right place at the right time. However, it pales in comparison to Larry Bird’s 12 All-Star games, 3 MVP awards, 3 NBA championships, and his 1st ballot induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Kevin Love, like the other members of WALL, will soon be exposed as somebody who doesn’t hold a candle to one Larry Joe Bird.

 

Comments  

 
0 #6 Klove 2012-03-29 01:15
How's that crow taste?
 
 
0 #5 Skeefoo 2012-03-27 14:19
ChrisPC,You know nothing about basketball,
Have no Idea how good Bird was,and need your PC taken away,He took 3 championships
in a league stacked with future hall of famers,He beat Julius Erving,The Houston Rockets,and Magics Lakers,In their prime,he was a brilliant passer,and a clutch shooter,Im suppossed to believe someone thats not atheletic can play 82 game seasons plus playoffs?You sir know not of what you preach.
 
 
0 #4 JoeL 2012-03-26 03:20
Wow came across this recently, This writer must have been eating a steady diet of crow since 2011
 
 
0 #3 Guest 2008-06-13 15:27
I see Love as more of a Kevin McHale Type player.
 
 
-1 #2 Guest 2008-04-28 04:15
Man this is why this site rules thank you
 
 
0 #1 ChrisPC 2008-04-25 17:02
If a white guy is very athletic (which Bird is not) averages about 30 a game. makes it to the cmapionship game. Is 6-9. And can hit 100 three pointers we may have some one who is as good as Bird. I do however not believe there is one true comparison to Bird as no Magic, Michael, or Barkley type have not been in the league yet neither. Althought O'Neal is similar Chamberlain
 

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