If Wins Matter, Is Kevin Love Still An All-Star Slam Dunk?

VIDEO: Kevin Love talks about dealing with tough stretches on ‘Inside Stuff’

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — This post might embolden a pitch-forked mob to burn my basketball-writing credentials at the stake, but here goes: Don’t chalk up Kevin Love as an automatic Western Conference All-Star reserve just yet. Not as long as the West coaches who will select those reserves stick to the notion that winning matters.

NBA All-Star 2014Here’s Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle three years ago when asked if Tim Duncan deserved to be selected despite averaging career lows in points and rebounds in the first half of the 2010-11 season: “Those guys are 37-4 or something. You’ve got to take a strong look at that. That’s meaningful, that Duncan is on a team that’s winning every game. That’s a big deal, and it should be.”

Duncan made the squad at the expense of statistically better options that included Love (later picked as an injury replacement for Yao Ming), LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph. Coaches will again have to take a strong look at Duncan, 37, when they cast their votes (selections will be announced on Jan. 30).

Duncan’s stats — 14.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg and 1.97 bpg in 29.0 mpg — again pale next to those of his younger counterparts even though he’s essential to the Spurs sitting atop the West at 31-8.

The West’s frontcourt field is stacked. The starters, as voted by the fans (voting ends Monday), appear set: Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin (although Love was only about 17,000 votes behind Griffin for the third starting spot after last week’s third returns; Love being voted in would render this conversation moot). Coaches will select four frontcourt reserves from a deep pool that as of now includes Love, Duncan, Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and David Lee among a few others worthy of consideration (Nicolas BatumAndre Iguodala, Randolph?).

There will be quality snubs.

Love’s statistical credentials are spotless: 25.6 ppg (fourth in the league), 13.0 rpg (second), 4.0 apg (tied for first among power forwards) and 39.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc (10th overall) in 36.2 mpg. His presence, at least offensively, is essential: Minnesota’s offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) soars to 109.3 with him on the floor; without him it plummets to 93.0.

Love’s team, however, the thought-to-be playoff-ready Timberwolves, is a disheartening and seemingly unraveling group. At 18-20 they sit 11th in the West, four games out of the final playoff spot behind Nowitzki’s Mavericks. After a recent debacle of a home loss to Phoenix, Love publicly called out a pair of sulking teammates, a move that has been met with both praise and criticism.

Speaking of Nowitzki, how difficult will it be for coaches to pass on the NBA’s 13th leading all-time scorer who is averaging 21.4 ppg, is flirting with a 50-40-90 season and has his team playing mostly above expectations? Nowitzki’s 11-year All-Star run ended last season following preseason knee surgery. Aldridge and Batum have helped make the Blazers the NBA’s surprise team of the first half. An All-Star last year, Lee is averaging 19.2 ppg — shooting 52.8 percent — and 9.9 rpg on a top-five squad.

Like Love’s Wolves, Cousins’ Kings are on the wrong side of the win-loss coin, but the enigmatic center with the bad rep is having a monstrous season (one quite comparable to Love’s) — 23.4 ppg (49.6 FG%), 11.6 rpg, 1.8 spg and 1.1 bpg in 32.4 mpg. Sacramento (14-23) got off to an awful start, but has played better of late, winning six of its last 10, including wins over Miami and Portland, and have just three more losses than the Wolves.

The Kings closed that gap Wednesday with a 111-108 win at Minnesota. Cousins had 20 and 11 with five turnovers. Love had 27 and 11 with five assists. Cousins got the W.

Another intriguing point regarding Cousins’ chances for a first All-Star appearance: Last year the NBA altered the ballot, scrapping the traditional positional breakdown of guard, forward and center to simply backcourt and frontcourt to reflect the lack of true centers in today’s game. Under the old format, would not Cousins be a shoo-in as the backup center?

Love’s statistics scream All-Star. His team has been a dud. In a season in which the player field is so competitive, and if team wins are truly weighted as significant, the West coaches will be faced not with a slam dunk vote for Love, but rather embroiled in a most difficult process of elimination.


  1. Bob M says:

    Love, Aldridge, and Cousins should be the All Star reserves in the frontcourt. Timmy is a Hall of Famer, Dirk is a Hall of Famer.They have had their time and should let others, that are great players, play. The “honorarium” nomination isn’t fair (like Kobe getting all those votes). The Fan vote usually isn’t based on the best players; it is a popularity contest. But, if you want the best players playing right now, you take the 3 above.
    K-Love is a baller’s baller.

  2. Sam J says:

    Also, fan voting is stupid. Especially if it is going to choose the starters. Maybe we could use fan voting to choose a couple of the subs.

  3. Sam J says:

    If “wins matter” than the entire eastern conference all-star team should come from Miami and Indiana. With maybe one guy from Atlanta.

  4. jake s. says:

    He is an Olympian. Who gives a lick about All-Star?

  5. BLA says:

    Um. Kevin Love is 3rd in the league in Estimated Wins Added, behind only Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

    Without Kevin Love, Minnesota becomes Milwaukee.

  6. Ted5328 says:

    Aldridge’s stats are right there with Love’s and his team is a half game out of 1st place so he should make it. Duncan and Dirk are still playing all star caliber ball but people get tired of the same guys getting it every year so it wouldn’t surprise me to see David Lee and Anthony Davis get the spots. The real question to me is do you reward guys like Love for putting up fantasy numbers on mediocre teams or rewards guys like Ibaka and Batum for making invaluable (though less glamorous) statistical contributions that make their teams elite. Ibaka roughly a 15 and 10 guy but a shot blocking force critical to the Thunder defense. Batum does not always score 20 because the Blazers don’t often need him to but he flirts with a triple double more times than not because he is doing EVERYTHING else. He has the ability to score when they need it but usually plays the modern version of the point/forward facilitates every other Blazer’s scoring. Batum blocks nearly twice as many shots per game as Love too not because it is good for fantasy value but because it helps his team win. Batum and Ibaka will not get in though because we love our scorers.

  7. mz13 says:

    Love is an All-Star no doubt, he is in top 5 in scoring and rebounding, u cant ignore that even if he is a bad defender or Wolves not a .500 team. Aldridge and Cousins too. I love Duncan but not an all star this year, and Spurs doesn’t have the best record because of Timmy or Parker or anyone else, Pop’s system proved effective and Spurs won games when Timmy and Parker were not playing cause of injury or rest. Same thing George Karl did with Nuggets last year, a very good record because of really good teamwork, noone complained why Denver didn’t have an all star last year, maybe because Denver’s players weren’t as popular as Spurs’, Parker must be in New Orleans, Duncan, i dont think so having in mind the improvement and progress of Cousins and Davis. And if we count team record so much, we should take the 3 best players from 4 best teams and end the story…. -.-

    And please, dont let the fans vote for starting 5… its ok for last 2 spots, but not for starting 5… -.-

  8. John says:

    Its not fair to count the stats as a real measure of greatness of a player. Loves stats are mostly padded in most of his losing causes.
    Were as when you have a real all star sitting on the beach after they have destroyed their opponents with his great D and is offence, his stats will suffer because the teams are saving him for the next game. I think records need to be looked at. Also with the tec. we have today you can see what is garbage time stats and what is game winning stats.

  9. 12thman says:

    I don’t understand how in the NBA this whole thing about players having to play on elite teams just to have a spot in a glorified exhibition game. His teams performance should be irrelevant; this is an INDIVIDUAL achievement, not a measuring stick for his value to his team. As for Love’s defense, no one watches the all star game to watch how well he defends on a pick and roll or how well he reacts on help defense or a switch. Plenty of defensive liabilities can and will be all stars for years (James Harden, Kyrie Irving), so why keep him out? He is the best power forward in the league in spite of his team and there’s no need to penalize him for that. Same thing goes for DeMarcus Cousins!

  10. Only to a SPURS fan says:

    What do you this trade Kris humpreis to diaw and bonner

  11. Harris says:

    Fan voting is very biased towards the more popular players but inclusion of injured players like Kobe doesn’t really matter on roster space. He will get the recognition as a ‘All-Star starter’ but another player will be selected to replace him, which means that no one will be snubbed because Kobe have a lot of fan support.
    For example, an injured Yao was replaced by Love in 2011 and Okur in 2007.

    The trouble with fan voting is with undeserving players who are NOT injured but keep get voted into the All-Star Game. They are the ones who take up roster space.
    For example, a healthy Yao was All Star starter in his rookie season when he only averaged 13 and 8. A better center could have been snubbed because of Yao’s popularity overseas.

  12. LAKERS4LIFE says:

    Love is a All-Star Bring Him to LA!!!!!

  13. eX says:

    It started back in Yao era, undeserving player get more vote, since then , it become a non event for me to care

  14. demagofrak says:

    this year, alridge over love in the all star game, for now the wolves are a joke and after so much expectations and hype before the season, yes, portland and alridge do a lot better.
    carmelo anthony same thing, saved by kids vote who don’t know a lot about basketball, but clearly not an all star this year (efficiency numbers+ knicks laughingstock)
    i’m scared that the media and businessmen will take more and more spots in the all star game every year, soon it will be only hype and fake players. and a chinese

  15. Art says:

    Minnesota record is 18-21, New York & Cleveland: 15-25.
    If Love doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star because of team record what about Anthony & Irving?
    If starting five are selected regardless of team success why it should be criteria for reserves?
    Love & Aldridge must be in, Cousins probably too.
    BTW Love deserves to be a starter more than Griffin & Howard.
    These two are better in advertising & dunk contest only.
    You can discuss Duncan vs Dirk vs Davis for the last spot.

    • Harris says:

      Totally agree. Team record exemplifies team effort. Simply because a team is the top seed does not mean that they MUST have X number of All-Stars. Similarly, an All-Star should not be excluded because his team has been bad.
      Otherwise, we might as well save an All-Star spot for Duncan until he retires because the Spurs is always going to be one of the best teams. (Timmy is still a very good player but should not make the All Star game ahead of Love, Aldridge, Cousins and Davis based purely on their performance this season)

    • underdog says:

      Love is just a stat stuffer. Losing even with an excellent squad and excellent coach says a lot.. Ill take Griffin or Howard over him any day because at least they are not liabilities on defense…

  16. sam says:

    I read the title and thought, Love is putting up 25pts, 13 reb, and 4 ast. Those are all star numbers.

    • underdog says:

      But offense is just half the game.. and K-Love is horrible on the defensive end. And also, with those numbers, they’re still losing failing to win on a lot of close games.. I think they’re still winless when they’re trailing by atleast 6 points in 5 minutes

  17. okc2014 says:

    I agree, Kevin Love is in the top 10 of best NBA players. He will not be snubbed by the coaches. Neither will DeMarcus Cousins, Aldridge and Anthony Davis. Tim Duncan and David Lee will probably be snubbed. That’s too bad and so sad.

  18. Sharpie says:

    Honestly in the last few years it’s been impossible to take the all-star voting seriously. Especially when Kobe is receiving all those votes. You know it’s bad when even Kobe is scratching his head and wondering why he’s receiving votes.

  19. Dyron from Belize says:

    and teams like the heat and boston in their big three era and lakers with bynum kobe and pau can have 3 all stars at the same time! correct me if im wrong but it was 4 with rondo in boston rite?
    Pop wont coach the team caz he did last year but timmy deserve to be there 100% and as for guys like KLove im sorry! just ask aldridge about it from past years…….. sorry big cuz its not your year either! look at timmy and kg at the point in their career k love and big cuz are! they were winning! not 14-23

  20. Dyron from Belize says:

    @imherpalaad ur an idiot right? so you are saying the spurs with the best record should only have 1 all star???
    and Timmy’s D don’t matter when it got Gasol in there last year right? mien sometimes I wonder

  21. The Voice In The Distance says:

    I feel Kevin Love should definitely be in the All-star game. If the Wolves had a strong record he would be in the MVP conversation. The Wolves’ problems have been with others members of the roster not playing to their skill level so Love has had to carry the load too much. The better defensive teams have been ganging up on him but his team mates have not done enough to help out. Offensively he’s excellent and one of the best rebounders in the game, but of course not a strong defender but what he does have is enough to make him the best power forward in today’s game.

    • Drum says:

      Sadly, when I watch wolves games all I see is guys doing everything they can to get Love the ball or forcing layups to create rebound opportunities for him, to me it’s a waste of talent, because make no mistake, this team IS loaded with talent. Then, on top of everything the guy shrinks in the fourth quarter and blames others for his inability to get the game winning basket or stop?! I can definitely see why the coaches may vote for other guys who are more team oriented..

  22. dustydreamnz says:

    If Love is in a good squad they aren’t in the playoffs at the current time. Rubio isn’t performing and their bench is questionable so I don’t agree with you Mabs.

  23. Kevin Love is not only an All-Star, he is one of the Top 10 players in the league. Wins matter, big time. But basketball is a team sport. Love is one man, not a starting five and not the 12th man off the bench. He is in an unfortunate situation playing for a franchise that is destined to be great. He should get out and not make the same mistake the other Kevin (Garnett) made wasting away his prime playing for a team and management that doesn’t know how to play chess and win.

    • B-Baller says:

      Lets be clear about one thing. Garnetts was (is) a much better player than Love, but you are correct, The team he is playing for is the problem here. Although I would still take Aldridge over him. I think Bake is the overratted player in this conversation, the kid can’t do much of anything becides dunk. D.Jordan makes his defense look good, but hes really not THAT good.

  24. imherpalaad says:

    KLuv is an all-star. ALong with Aldridge, Blake, Cousins and Dirk. Spurs’ is not timmy’s anymore, it’s parker. so SA’s team standing should not be a factor for duncan to be in the allstar game.

    after howard, durant, and blake… i go for love and LA.

    • Sharpie says:

      So Tim Duncan shouldn’t be considered because he’s not the best player on his team? That’s pretty stupid. You could make an argument that Howard, Durant, Griffin, Aldridge and Dirk all aren’t the best player on their team. Duncan probably shouldn’t make the All-Star because he’s getting older, his minutes have dropped and so have his stats. Fact is the Spurs will always be Duncan’s as long as he decides to suit up.

  25. imherpalaad says:

    KLuv is an all-star. He and Aldridge. I’d be pissed if they wont be selected. I’t s how you impact your team and the game.
    Love, Aldridge, Blake. Nowitzki. Cousins. Howard was in due to popularity. spurs’ is not timmy’s anymore, it’s parker. so he shouldnt be included.

    • Kome the Black Dumba says:

      Really? Howard’s in just due to that!? How about Lin then?
      Spur’s not Timmy’s? If you take duncan out of spurs that won’t have a chance to make the finals anymore. I am not saying tony is not important but right now still Timmy> Tony.

      Who will be your starter 5 then? Or are those F/C your starting 5?

  26. Kevin Love should be in the all star game

  27. skunk says:

    snubs happen when coaches have to clean up the mess that the fans make. my advice is remove the fan voting all together.

  28. dustydreamnz says:

    All Star selection should have nothing to do with how your team is playing. He could be in a squad with 14 guys who are simply useless yet he’s still killing it. Kevin Love is an All Star in my opinion.

    • Mabs says:

      Well that isn’t the case with Love cause he has a very good squad. It actually highlights the fact he isn’t a superstar in the league, seeing as he can not get into the playoffs his entire career. He is amazing player, I love the fact that he rebounds like a mad man and he is an all star. He is probably the best power forward in the league. Blake and LaMarcus are right behind him. He is an All Star but by no means is he a star in this league. If he doesn’t choice to be a complementary player to a real star, he will never make the playoffs.

      • Bad4Business says:

        Star > All-Star. All-Star > Star. What’s the difference? Your statements contradict one another. “He is an All Star but by no means is he a star in this league.”

      • Dieter says:

        I don’t get the “best power forward in the league”, but not a star in this league. So power forward is the weakest position in the league? I don’t think so, both Lamarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh are top 10 players in this league. If a top 10 player is not a star, than I don’t know what is.

        Love, Allstar? I don’t think so, like Mabs says, Love has good support, and still can’t carry the T-Wolves over 50%,,, When Bosh was playing for the Raptors, they had about the same amount of wins as the T-Wolves, but the Raptors had pretty much the worst possible supporting cast for Bosh. Love wouldn’t be the best player on alot of teams, he’s not a top 5 power forward and the T-Wolves are far from having a playoff team record…. you can’t call a player a star just because he has alot of points and rebounds.

    • artifex says:

      I think it’s a tough question – and basically a subjective one. So, I’m quite sure Love will get in. I agree with “selection should have nothing to do with how your team” is.
      I agree however, that the teams standings tell something in addition to (primary) stats. As there was comparison to KG – I think their teams are roughly comparable – after KGs rookie season they had 40+ in 9 consecutive seasons (4x 50+ and 8 consecutive playoffs). For KL: 5 seasons, 32 wins (recalc to 82 games in lockout season) is the bestm not playoffs.
      (If one looks at the impact LeBron had on Cle, THAT is impact – NO i’m not a LBJ fan, but root for Mavs, so….).

      This, to me, is important in MVP talk (I don’t see KL there). But All star? I think so. I think he’s a great player and this season so far not diminished! (not that this is a self-implication but he’s also US-team member, to tell about, if he’s a good player, and those should know!)
      Only where I bring up the team is, that good teams should have a representitive at All Star game. So, I think it more cruel if e.g. there wouldn’t be any of the Hawks there in NoLa!

  29. Johnny says:

    And not one single mention of defense. No surprise I guess.