Kevin Love is the leader of the Minnesota Timberwolves (18-19). It's a role that he has taken to new heights this season, and embraced along the way.
"He's trying to become more of a leader out there," forward Chase Budinger told FOX Sports North. "Especially in the locker room, of talking more and of trying to work out plays with guys one on one or talk through different circumstances out there on the court with guys, especially at halftime, trying to talk to everyone."
Love's leadership was put to the test last week when J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham sat on the bench, sulking during a timeout late in Minnesota's loss to the Suns. Love said it [ticked] him off so he called out both players during a postgame press conference.
Barea was disappointed Love didn't try talking to him face-to-face before going to the media. Did Love handle the situation the way a team leader is supposed to?
"In this day and age, you have to figure out how you say it," Head Coach Rick Adelman said last Friday, "because it's going to be there forever. We dealt with it yesterday. We talked about it."
Adelman hinted that it wasn't the perfect way to handle it, but it was another example of Love increasing his role as a team leader. But Love says he's not the only leader on the team.
"We have other guys on this team, like Pek (Nikola Pekovic) and Ricky (Rubio), who lead by example, who speak up. Coach, like everywhere he's been, every player has a voice. I think everybody's going to step up. And it takes a whole team," he said.
Despite scoring just 14 points in Minnesota's 19-point loss to the Spurs on Sunday, Love is having a tremendous season. Entering Tuesday's NBA action, he was averaging 25.5 points, 13.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. If he can boost his assist average to five or more, he'll put himself in some elite company. Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders was asked by Britt Robson of MinnPost what kind of season Love is capable of having.
What I really appreciate about Kevin is that when I first came here and I talked to him, I pulled out a list of about 20 players. Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett, Wilt Chamberlain, I think Kareem. And I said, “Would you like to be considered with those guys?” and he said, “For sure.” And I said, “Those guys averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. You’re going to get 20 and 10. And you’ve got the ability to be close to five. So I think the positive thing here is, let’s get you to where you are making your teammates better.
If Love and the Wolves can start playing better defense they'll become a very dangerous team.
The Wolves are second in the NBA in scoring (107 points per game).