Kevin Love cites ‘European Movement’ for shaping today’s NBA
MANILA, Philippines – Regardless of how many times it has been mentioned, it’s very clear that the NBA has changed over the past few years.
When comparing the style of play from today’s generation of players from those a couple of decades back, particularly the game’s big men, the evolution of play is very much evident.
While some behemoths still prefer to do damage in the post, many of today’s power forwards, and some centers, have become more lethal threats from the outside by virtue of their jump-shooting prowess.
The list of such floor-spreaders is eye-catching: Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, Paul Millsap, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Serge Ibaka, to name a few. Even guys who were once ministers in the paint like Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett expanded the longevity of their careers by adding on respectable mid-range shots in their twilight years.
Meanwhile, MVP candidate Blake Griffin continues to get flack for not having a reliable jumper, despite how tremendous he is in the other areas of his arsenal.
However, there are some guys who are effective by being both a menace in the post and a decent outside shooter. The Memphis Grizzlies’ bigs, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, are two monsters you can add to that list. Likewise for Indiana’s David West, Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez, and a few more.
But none of them do it better than Kevin Love.
Welcome to Manila, Mr. Love. So, how has the NBA changed lately?
A little over 24 hours ago, Love, an All-Star for the Minnesota Timberwolves, arrived in Manila as a special guest to the 2014 Master Game Face Challenge.
The events festivities span all weekend long, with the main event taking place tomorrow as Team Chris (Tiu) and Team Marc (Pingris) go head to head at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The game will feature some of the brightest UAAP and NCAA college stars today, while Love is also expected to participate in a three-point shootout contest.
Love, who averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds a game last season for the T-Wolves, is no stranger to long-range shooting competitions, having outshot Kevin Durant and James Jones to win the 3-Point Shootout Champion at the 2012 All-Star Weekend in Orlando.
At 6-foot-10 and weighing 260 pounds, being a three-point shooting king probably wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when you lay eyes on Love for the first time.
Back in the 80s, when goliaths like Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Kevin McHale would go to battle each time Boston faced Los Angeles, or in the 90s, when Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon had numerous duels for supremacy in the paint, such a fact would probably be head-shaking to many.
“That Love guy is huge! He should get to the post and bang from there, not stay outside shooting jumpers. That’s a guard’s job!” an old NBA lifer from three decades ago would probably say.
But times have changed. And according to Love, he feels that the influx of tall European players and their then-unique shooting abilities played a major role in shaping the landscape of today’s NBA.
“I mean, the game’s just evolving. The European movement in the late ‘90s and early 2000s had a lot to do with it,” Loved argued yesterday in an exclusive conversation with Rappler at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.
He continued, providing praise for a Western Conference rival whom he feels spearheaded the crusade – a rival whose name was mentioned above.
“I think Dirk (Nowitzki) was the first guy to have true success doing that. Stretching the floor, and being an outside threat at seven-feet tall” mentioned Love, who spent the early hours of his day conducting a basketball skills clinic with the young kids of the Boystown Manila institution in Marikina City.
Growing up, Love idolized NBA giants who spent most of their time close to the rim, which played a role in his development of a post game that has made him a dual threat on offense for the Timberwolves.
“Shaquille O’Neal,” he answered, when asked which star he looked up to as a kid, calling him “one of the best to ever do it,” during the press conference for the promotional game on Saturday, June 21. He added a couple more names to the list, mentioning, “Barkley and some old-school Celtics.”
According to mysynergysports.com, 22.9% of Love’s offensive plays in the 2013-2014 NBA regular season came via post-up plays, in which he went a total of 136-of-309 from the field for 44% shooting. Meanwhile, the site mentions that most of Love’s 3-ball attempts came via possessions where he spotted up. The big man went 72-of-109 in such situations, shooting an impressive 37.7%.
If there’s anyone who epitomizes being a big man from the NBA’s yesteryears as well as from today’s more dynamic, floor-spreading game style, it’s the star who’s currently gracing Manila with his presence.
“I loved how brutal and ruthless it was in the 80s, cause that’s what I grew up watching as far as watching different films and in 90s basketball when they used to be able to handcheck,” Love later noted.
He also added: “But the game (now) is different, the rules and teams have changed and evolved, and so has the game and what players are able to do.”
And according to Love, frankly, “It’s just the way the game is going.”
While many hoops traditionalists (Hey, Shaq) still cringe at how different the big-man game is now in the NBA, it seems as if nothing is stopping the “European Movement.” Love believes that there is nothing wrong with this, and while he still wants to improve his stamina, ball handling, and defense, he also says that he will continue to utilize and hone the three-pointer as a weapon.
“You see different skill sets of different players wanting to stretch the floor, especially at the three, four, and five positions,” he said, further explaining the way of play in today’s NBA.
“When you have the touch and you’re able to work on it and shoot from outside, it’s a great weapon to have.” - Rappler.com