Reasonable people can disagree on the value of Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love. While he puts up obscene numbers and deserves his spots on All-Star and All-NBA teams, there's some question as to whether or not he can be the clear-cut first option on a championship contender. For all his abilities, Love doesn't always seem like the kind of player who can create good shots by himself.
Again, these are legitimate arguments to be had. What most people don't argue is whether or not Love is a good, unique player whom most teams would trade for in an instant. Don't tell that to Utah Jazz big man Derrick Favors, though, because he made some odd comments about Love's abilities in advance of their Wednesday night home game against the Timberwolves. From Wolves radio play-by-play announcer Alan Horton on Twitter (via PBT):
#Jazz Favors on Love "just like any other stretch 4 in the league...probably a better rebounder but pretty much like every other stretch 4."
— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) January 2, 2013
It's not really necessary to poke holes in Favors's argument, because it is very clearly wrong. Love isn't just probably a better rebounder than most stretch-fours — he is arguably the best rebounder in the NBA. On top of that, Love mixes outside shooting and inside dominance in a way that most stretch fours don't — he's only really included in that group because he can shoot in addition to doing everything a traditional power forward does.
Again, there are reasons to be dubious of Love's status as a top-shelf superstar. But it's particularly odd for an opponent to make such an incorrect claim about a player, especially when the comment could serve as bulletin board material in a matchup of two teams looking to lock down a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Wolves and Jazz tip off at 7 p.m. Mountain time on Wednesday night. We'll have to see if Love exposes Favors's argument tonight, or if we'll just have to rely on several seasons' worth of data to do so.
UPDATE: I was sent this video of Favors's comments by Jazz fan @da_breezman on Twitter, and it does provide some context:
Effectively, Favors is saying that Love presents the same challenge as "any other stretch four" (slight difference from the quote as presented by Horton) in that he produces offensively from inside and outside the paint. On top of that, when Favors says that Love is "probably a better rebounder" it comes across as less flippant than it does in print.
On the other hand, the comments in general still come as a little too casual an explanation for the challenge that Love presents to opposing power forwards. It's much like saying that defending Chris Paul is the same as defending any other point guard. That's true, in a way, because Paul looks to score and set up his teammates and does so largely with a mix of athleticism and thoughtful play that we see in other successful players at the position. The difference is that Paul is better at it than anyone else, just like Love is better at combining the skills of a stretch four better than any other player at the position.
Favors explained away the challenge of Love far too easily. It can be useful for NBA players to approach star opponents as if they were perfectly standard basketball players. But when they do so in public, it often comes across as a sign of disrespect.