Don't sell high on Kevin Love

December, 23, 2010

In case you didn't catch it, Kevin Love had another 19 rebounds on Wednesday night for the Timberwolves against the Jazz. In doing so, he boosted his average for the season to 15.6 per game, which -- if he manages to keep it up all season -- would be the highest single-season average since Dennis Rodman averaged 16.1 for the Bulls in 1996-97. Love would also be the first guy since Moses Malone to put up better than 20 points and 15 boards a game for a whole season.

A quick look at the Player Rater will show you that Love's rebounding has been one of the most valuable statistics in all of fantasy basketball. On a per-game basis, his rebounding is better (with respect to the rest of the league) than any statistical achievement besides Rajon Rondo's assists and Andrew Bogut's shot-blocking. Given the trouble Rondo and Bogut have had staying on the court so far this season, there's an argument to be made that, relative to the league, Love is rebounding better than anyone else is doing any single thing.

Amazingly, he's been so good in that one category that he's managed to make it not matter that he doesn't block shots or shoot a high percentage from the floor. Besides rebounding, his stats don't look very typical for a big man. For example, he makes 3s and knocks down his free throws. His uniqueness, though, seems to be exactly what makes him so reliable; his skill set may be atypical, but it's also unlikely to change much.

It may seem like now would be a good time to sell high on Kevin Love, but the fact of the matter is that players like him don't come around very often (see Malone, Moses). He's a strange enough phenomenon that finding precedents seems ridiculous, and that might make trading him ridiculous, too.

Looking Back

Nick Young managed 25 points for the Wizards in their loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night, although the positive takeaway in terms of fantasy is that he played 39 minutes while Josh Howard and Rashard Lewis each played fewer than 30. Young needs to play a lot to be worth owning in fantasy, because all he really does is score, so any sign that the Wiz are inclined to keep playing him a lot is a good thing. … Richard Hamilton voiced his displeasure about coming off the bench for the Pistons by scoring 35 points in just 28 minutes against the Raptors; unfortunately, the 28 minutes are a really bad sign for his fantasy prospects, at least in the short term. … I have no explanation for it, but if you're expecting Brook Lopez to start rebounding again, you may be out of luck. His four rebounds in 30 minutes in the Nets' loss to the Hornets feels like a low point, but it's actually not that out of the ordinary for Lopez of late. … Marcus Thornton returned to form for the Hornets, scoring 18 points in 19 minutes off the bench after two straight bad games, but he's going to need to get more minutes on a regular basis to be a consistent option in fantasy, and the Hornets have not been willing to play him more to this point in the season. … Given how well Ty Lawson has been playing for the Nuggets lately, it is good to see George Karl trying out some lineups with both Lawson and Chauncey Billups on the floor together. Chauncey is big enough to play the two a bit, so it's not impossible for Lawson to get enough minutes to stay relevant in fantasy. If you've been playing Lawson in Chauncey's absence, 22 points in 28 minutes off the bench against the Spurs should be all you need to keep him around for a little while. … Gary Neal has been great for the Spurs this season, and two consecutive 22-point games is very impressive, but the Spurs are a little too fond of spreading the wealth for anyone off the bench to remain a consistent fantasy option. Just a week ago, Neal was putting up three points in 12 minutes against the Bucks, and I'm sure there will be more nights like that soon.

Looking Ahead

Things won't get easier for the struggling Magic when the red-hot Spurs come to town on Thursday night; on the other hand, these Spurs do not defend the way many of their previous iterations did, and it could be a good night in particular to keep an eye on Brandon Bass. He played only 16 minutes in the Magic's loss to the Mavericks on Tuesday, but he certainly deserves more playing time, and would seem to have a good matchup against the also-undersized DeJuan Blair. … With Drew Gooden doubtful and Corey Maggette questionable to play for the Bucks against the Kings, it's probably a good night to start Ersan Ilyasova, who had a nice double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds last time out against the Lakers. … Last time the Heat played the Suns, they were able to pretty much lock down the Suns' offense while Chris Bosh blew up on the other end. I wouldn't expect anything different this time, which is why it may be a good night to give guys like Grant Hill and Channing Frye a bench spot if you have other options (unfortunately, there are so few games on Thursdays that in many leagues you may have to just play them anyway).

Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for



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