Despite struggling lately, the Cleveland Cavaliers have had an exciting 2021-22 campaign.
The Cavs’ season has been filled with pleasant storylines, and the team has gotten contributions from some surprising names.
One of those names is Kevin Love. While it’s no secret that Love has had a fantastic career, many fans had written the veteran off before the 2021-22 season started.
But Love has proven this season that he’s not done yet. After roughly a decade of being a starter, Love moved to a bench role this year. He has embraced it and given Cleveland’s second unit a huge boost.
Love has done enough to convince John Hollinger of The Athletic that the Sixth Man of the Year award should go to him instead of the Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro.
“Stop the madness, people,” Hollinger wrote. “Being a sixth man isn’t just about coming out flinging. Herro’s 20.6 scoring average off the pine is impressive, but he’s basically operated as a high-volume, middling-at-best efficiency possession sponge, while his defense makes him a popular target for opposing offenses.
“As for Love, he may trail Herro in points per game, but smokes the field on every available advanced metric. It’s been an important impact, too. His return to being a floor-spacing, rebounding, out-letting menace is one of the biggest reasons the Cavaliers are a winning team again.
“Love has only played 1,629 minutes to Herro’s 2,118, and that’s a significant difference. But in terms of effectiveness, it’s not even close. Love is shooting 38.5 percent from 3 on career-high volume, rebounding like a center and diming people up when his shot isn’t there (4.8 assists per 100 is elite stuff from a big). Overall, his 19.1 PER and 4.1 BPM lap the field.
“Another player I think needs a strong look here is Phoenix’s Cameron Johnson, who like Love trails Herro by more than 400 minutes, but has outperformed him pretty significantly in terms of two-way impact.
“I don’t mean to dump on Herro – he’s having a good year! The Heat are really good! But this award isn’t reserved for the backup guard who jacks the most shots, despite what recent history may indicate. The voting mindset for this award has become increasingly weird over the past several years and it’s long past time to inject some rationality. Love should be a fairly obvious pick here, and I find it really odd that he doesn’t seem to be.”
Herro is regarded by many as the overwhelming favorite to win the award, and it seems unlikely that Love will somehow change that before the regular season ends.
Still, the 33-year-old has had a very impressive campaign, and he’s had a huge hand in helping the Cavs become relevant again. Cleveland will find itself in the play-in tournament once the regular season ends, and Love would surely love nothing more than to help his squad make it to the playoffs.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to challenge for a title, but the Cavs don’t seem to be there yet. It certainly seems like the organization is on the right path, however, and perhaps Love will still be with the team once it’s ready to take that step.