If the NBA draft were held tomorrow, Kevin Love would probably be picked somewhere between 15th and 20th. He might even slip further in favor of more athletic, higher "upside" players (see DeVon Hardin of Cal). Teams like Atlanta, New York, & New Jersey just couldn't pass up the chance at "once-in-a-lifetime" talents like Hasheem Thabeet, Darrell Arthur, or Anthony Randolph. Even Jay Bilas (Love's biggest fan) would praise these perenially poor evaluators of talent for their ingenious selections.
The Spurs would steal him with a pick in the mid-twenties, and draft analysts would call it a perfect fit for the predictable, efficient, if not boring Champs. After all, those are the adjectives best fit for describing Love's game, no? Love's game is "pedestrian," "heady." He's "overrated," "physically limited." He plays "slow" and "below the rim."
What's so wrong with predictable and efficient? Why are we so enamored with the unknown? Year after year, teams drool over athletic specimens like Hakim Warrick, Tyrus Thomas, and Stromile Swift. It turns into a vicious cycle for the league's bottom-feeders: trade a proven veteran to land a "specimen," spend 2-3 years trying to break these players of their bad habits, and then ship them off for less than they paid in the first place. All they have to show for it is a depleted fan base and poor team chemistry.
Kevin Love will be the next... Bill Laimbeer? Brad Miller? These seem to be the most common comparisons. Of course they are -- he's a big man who can throw the bounce pass and hit the nineteen-footer. More than anything else, he's white. We are in love with comparing white guys to white guys. If Love could jump into a time machine, he would fit in perfectly with the Celtics teams of the early 80's. He'd look great in knee socks and short shorts, coming off the bench to replace McHale as the team's designated human elbow.
To me, the Laimbeer/Miller comparisons are laughable. He has the passing ability and shooting touch of those guys, but also crashes the boards with the reckless abandon. He has excellent footwork in the low post, and his ability to create inside looks or draw fouls against taller defenders shows the maturity of his game. In short, his brand of basketball is much more diverse than Miller's or Laimbeer's.
I foresee an NBA career that includes 4-5 all star appearances and numerous deep playoff runs. Those accomplishments would be pretty impressive for a late first-round pick.
Follow this link to read a hilarious & well-written blog about Love and his well-documented outlet passes: http://stopvitale.collegehoopsnet.com/2008/02/kevin-love-and-his-magical-cancer.html