During the 2011-2012 NBA Regular Season before falling down to a concussion injury which eventually ended Kevin Love’s season, Love had been averaging 26 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. In the 5 exhibition games played by Team USA, Love had been averaging 3.8 points and 4.4 rebounds through about 12 minutes of action per game.
Of course his numbers dropped because he was the only All-Star on the team unlike the 2012 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball team which is filled with 8 other NBA All-Stars.However, the coaching staff and Kevin Love’s teammates on Team USA desperately need more out of the young Timberwolves forward. All of them know what Love can do inside with his rebounding and hard work and also his outside with his three point shooting (2012 NBA Three Point Shootout Champion).
Team USA through the five pre-Olympic exhibition games averaged 36.8 rebounds per game while their opponents averaged 33.8 rebounds per game. You can safely say that Team USA has NOT been able to dominate on the boards despite their size (not height) advantage over the rest of the world. In 2 out of the 5 exhibition games, USA was out rebounded 30 to 38 against Brazil and shockingly were out rebounded as well 34 to 35 against Great Britain, the team they demolished 118-78.
As Team USA prepares for their opening Olympic match against Tony Parker and the French National Basketball Team tomorrow (8:30 PM CT) Team USA and Kevin Love, especially must look at the long-haul and see that if their bigs don’t produce, a gold medal for the Americans won’t be constructed as well. Yes, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Carmelo Anthony will do all they can offensively and defensively to make that happen but Team USA’s bigs, highlighted with Kevin Love and New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler, must be able to hold their ground as they are, in my opinion, the biggest factors for Team USA.
Defense wins championships. Championships equals Olympic gold medals. Great perimeter/inside defense is pointless without rebounding, therefore defense is reduced to zero. All in all, no defense, through rebounding, means no gold medal.
Teams such as Argentina and Spain will be able to dissect Team USA easily with their subpar inside presence and Kevin Love and Tyson Chanlder must step up whenever these type of teams come around. Kevin Love must have the same intensity and determination that the 20-20, 20-10, 10-10 K-Love had during the recent NBA season. At this point, there’s simply no dog in the doghouse for the Americans.
There’s no one inside presence to scare opposing guards from coming inside and scoring or tough (without fouling) guys to challenge other big men. In Team USA’s exhibition games, Argentina and Brazil showcased just how easy it is to get inside the paint and get extra points off offensive rebounds which in turned affected Team USA. Fortunately, the Americans won those games. However, nothing was at stake back then.
If K-Love and Tyson Chandler won’t be able to step up through the first couple of games in the 2012 London Olympic Men’s Basketball Olympic games, then I guess the best adjustment to do is to force all the players to stay inside and all come together when the ball is up. LeBron might be able to help, but he’s better off leading, distributing and scoring. Unlike with the Miami Heat, LeBron knows he has more big men to rely on the inside (no offense to Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony) with Love and Chanlder.
When Team USA faces Spain, the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka will surely force Team USA to some problems and Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler must fight back, if not a gold medal might be lost. We all know the intensity levels of these two big men as we watched them play with their respective NBA teams, and we haven’t seen it thus far. No domination inside.
If Team USA wants to win the gold this year, they’ll need some Love to accomplish that.
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