Howard Smith/USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Love had the allowed the third-fewest points per play on post-up plays in the NBA last season
Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor criticized Kevin Love's defense on ESPN Radio 1500 AM in the Twin Cities on Tuesday:
"I think where maybe he got away with some stuff not playing defense on our team, I'm not sure that's how it's going to work in Cleveland," Taylor said. "I would guess they're going to ask him to play more defense and he's foul prone."
Was Taylor right about Love’s defense?
Worst Opp FG pct at the Rim
Love doesn’t defend the rim
According to NBA.com player tracking data, Love was the worst rim protector in the NBA last season. He allowed a 57.4 field goal percentage at the rim, worst in the league among players to defend at least six shots per game.
But that doesn't tell the entire story...
Fewest Pts per Post-Up Play Allowed
But Love can defend the post
Love may have struggled protecting the rim, but he was actually a good one-on-one defender. On post-up plays, Love allowed the third-fewest points per play, minimum 200 plays.
It’s not Love’s fault
Love actually led the Timberwolves in defensive win shares last season with 3.7. Defensive win shares are an estimate of the number of wins a player contributes to his team due to his defense.
Since Love entered the NBA in 2008-09, he hasn’t had a single teammate ranked in the top 25 in defensive win shares. Only once has one of his teammates even ranked in the top 50 (Ricky Rubio was 29th last season, just behind Love).
With Love on the court last season, the Timberwolves allowed 104.1 points per 100 possessions. With Love off the court, they allowed 104.2 points per 100 possessions. Based on those numbers, it’s hard to say that Love was the reason why the team struggled defensively.
Foul prone? No way, Glen
Taylor also said that Love is “foul prone” and the numbers totally disagree with him about that.
In fact, Love only sent his opponents to the free throw line on 5.4 percent of his plays as on-ball defender last season, the second-lowest rate in the league, minimum 800 plays.
On post-up plays, Love was the best in the league at defending without fouling last season. He sent his opponents to the free throw line on just 5.8 percent of the post-up plays he defended, the lowest rate in the league among players to defend at least 100 plays.
Love hasn't fouled out of a game since his rookie season -- that's 319 straight games without fouling out.