After the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 106-76 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, LeBron James talked about Kevin Love’s role for this upcoming season. After a somewhat tumultuous year for Love in which he sometimes became an afterthought, James vowed that this season would be different, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
“We’ll use Kevin however he wants to be used,” James said. “I told you Kevin is going to be our main focus. He’s going to have a hell of a season. He’s going to get back to that All-Star status. He’s the focal point of us offensively.
“I know I can go out and get mine when I need it,” James continued. “But I need Kev to be as aggressive as he was tonight, and when he rebounds at the level he did tonight, the shots will automatically fall for him.”
That night against Memphis, Love led the Cavaliers with 17 points and 13 rebounds, and he took the most shots on the team with 14. James went just 4-of-13 for 12 points, but it didn’t matter thanks to Love and a strong defensive effort by Cleveland.
James rebounded with a 29-point effort against the Miami Heat on Friday, but Love once again played a key role in a big win, putting up 24 points, 14 rebounds (six offensive) and five assists. Love may have shot just 6-of-15 overall, but he went 3-of-7 from three and shot 9-of-9 from the line. His five assists were second on the team to Matthew Dellavedova’s 10.
These early returns paint a picture of a Kevin Love who indeed will have a lot of offense flow through him this season. After posting a usage percentage of 21.6 last season, that number is at 25.7 thus far this year. He’s putting up nearly 20 and 12 thus far with a PER over 28, and there’s still plenty of room for improvement in terms of his shooting percentage.
The caveat with all this, of course, is that Kyrie Irving isn’t around to take away touches from Love, but it’s still a positive to see the star power forward looking like a star power forward in the early going. The Cavaliers were elite offensively as it was last season, but if David Blatt can find a way to fully optimize Love, Irving and LeBron, that team is going to be scary good.