|Love making good early impression with Wolves|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 02 October 2008 22:32|
The 6-foot-9 forward has a frame that is a little on the lumpy side. When he gets moving down the court, he doesn't glide so much as he lumbers, elbows out to his sides and head bobbing.
Outward appearances alone, including his skin color, may lump Love in with players like Adam Keefe, Nick Collison or even teammate Mark Madsen. But the Minnesota Timberwolves' rookie is showing early in his first training camp that he could be so much more.
``Kevin's really underrated right now,'' Wolves guard Rashad McCants said. ``I think they think of him as being undersized and one of those white boys that just has to go in there and bang.
``But Kevin has a very good finesse game where he can step out and handle the ball and shoot the 3. I'm very impressed.''
bounds a game in his lone season at UCLA and was acquired by the Wolves in a seven-player, draft-night trade with Memphis that sent USC guard O.J. Mayo to the Grizzlies for Love and Mike Miller.
Local reaction to the trade was resoundingly negative, with Timberwolves fans livid that Kevin McHale would let go of the silky smooth Mayo in the deal. But the Timberwolves see Love as a player more comparable to Wes Unseld - an undersized power forward and one of the best rebounders in league history - than Brian Scalabrine.
``My middle name's Wesley after Wesley Unseld,'' Love said. ``It's just been ingrained in my blood.''
Love's father, Stan, played in the NBA for parts of four years in the 1970s after being the No. 9 pick in the 1971 NBA draft.
Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman has already started to see that pedigree, pointing to Kevin Love's basketball instincts that distinguish him from most 20-year-olds.
``What he brings on to the floor, it's hard to teach,'' Wittman said. ``Being at the right spot at the right time, those types of things. He has a knack for those things.''
Stan Love didn't just teach his son how to shoot, dribble and rebound. The younger brother of Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love, Stan ``did a lot of crazy things in his lifetime,'' Kevin Love said.
in Love said. ``He taught me to have work ethic. I've always kind of been a self-starter, but he was always that push in the back for me.
``He just told me to put it all out there on the court. And when you're off the court, be gracious, be a nice person. That's some of the best advice I've ever gotten.''
Though he grew up in Portland, Ore., Love's laid-back persona was the perfect fit for California cool UCLA.
After one All-America season in Westwood, Love was picked fifth overall on draft night. But the Grizzlies really coveted Mayo. When they offered up Miller in the deal, and also agreed to take the contracts of Marko Jaric and Antoine Walker off Minnesota's hands, it was ``a no brainer,'' GM Jim Stack said.
Stack compared him to Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford, and Love is already showing his quick feet down low that allow him to get great position for rebounds. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter, get out and run the floor and prides himself on pinpoint outlet passes that start fast breaks.
``The first time I met Kevin, the first thing he said to me is, 'You're going to love playing with me,''' star forward Al Jefferson said.
There are plenty of questions still to be answered. Love acknowledges that he has weaknesses on the defensive end, and how he will jell with Jefferson as part of a smallish frontcourt is still a point of intrigue.
try my best to prove them wrong,'' Love said with a shrug. ``If there's high expectations, I'm going to try to prove them right and then some. We'll just have to wait and see.''