Bucks Diary

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Case for Kevin Love coming to Milwaukee


The two greatest draft selections in Milwaukee Bucks history were Lew Alcindor in 1969 and Marques Johnson in 1977. No other players had greater impacts on the team's success than those two did. They were both from UCLA.

So was point guard Lucius Allen, who's injury late in the 1973-74 season cost the Bucks their second World Championship.

Then there was David Meyers... well, didn't he go religious and quit on the team? Bad example.

But no doubt the UCLA-Milwaukee pipeline has been good to the Bucks. And I'm saying unequivocally now, I want it to happen again. If he's there, the Bucks have to pick Kevin Love of UCLA. He's going to be a big time Win Producer and we desperately need big time Win Producers.

Before you go to the Comment section to blast me -- and I respect your opinions so rebut at will -- please review Erich Doerr's superb statistical analysis of the 2008 draft prospects. Notice how Doerr groups each prospects production according to their strength of competition -- something far too many draftniks overlook. Its one thing to do it against Little Henry's Schoold for the Blind, quite another to do it against Kansas.
If you look at the listings for performance against the KPTop 100 teams in college basketball, and performance against the NCAA field of 65, no one in the last two years has been better than Kevin Love. Not Durant, not Oden, Rose is not even close... the only one who is in his neighborhood is Michael Beasley. Love has been superior against the best competition.

How can you ask for more? He's the guy we should want. He's got real basketball skills combined with a productive history and the will to win. He's basically everything you look for in a prospect.
I know what you're thinking. Ty, haven't you seen what an earth dwelling plodder he is? Yes I have.

But I say this to you in response. Don't overvalue athleticism. Strength, determination, basketball skills... those are all much more important to the success of post players and he's got those things in droves.

I know you're thinking "Big Country Reeves". But that's a body type and racial analogy, not a basketball analogy. Big Country Reeves never approached the level of Love. Reeves actually produced in the pros just as his college numbers predicted he would produce. He simply never had a high ceiling to begin with. Love does. Reeves was not a rebounder, he was just a shooter. Love is a shooter, passer, and big time rebounder. If there's a guy with Reeves game in this draft its Brooke Lopez, not Kevin Love.

Besides, plenty of big sluggish body types like Love have been highly productive in the NBA. Remember Bill Laimbeer, you're telling me Love can't be as good as Laimbeer? How about Moses Malone or Jeff Ruland or Rick Mahorn or Maurice Lucas or Wes Unseld or Jerry Lucas?

Indeed, if you want to compare Love's game to anyone's it would be Jerry Lucas. They are almost doppelgangers. And Lucas was an all-time great who could rebound like a madman (and I believe his hobby was memorizing large metropolitan telephone books. I shit you not.)

I know I'm sticking my arms, legs and everything else into the buzzsaw by recommending Love, but I'm more than willing to do so. If he flops, you can rip me forever, because you know what? I'd rather be wrong about a guy with a proven track record of production than some skinny guy from Louisiana who hasn't done diddly in his career but is in the lottery because he's "long" and seems athletic.

One last point. What about Tractor Traylor? Wasn't he a big unathletic guy with a bit of weight problem who subsequently failed in the NBA?

Couple of points. First, Traylor didn't "fail". The average collegiate player coming into the NBA can be expected to produce 63% of his college Win Score. For Traylor, that would have meant producing a Win Score of 8.3. His career Win Score was 9.4. He didn't "fail". He was never projected to succeed.

Second, to the extent Traylor did struggle, it was because he was a smallish guy who used brute force to score over weaker opponents in college. That doesn't translate upward unless you're Shaq or Dwight Howard. How do I know that was Traylor's game? Look at his college free throw percentage compared to his college field goal percentage. They're almost identical at around 53%. That means he was not much of a shooter, he was a mauler.

Third, Traylor, despite his lack of height, was an above average per minute rebounder. During his time, power forwards grabbed about .23 rebounds per minute on average. Traylor grabbed just over .26. Again, strength and determination have alot more to do with effective rebounding than "athleticism". (Remember Charles Oakley? He couldn't jump over a Hot Wheel, but he could board like an MFer).

How many times do you see guys jump over other guys for rebounds? Once, twice a game maybe? Most rebounds go to the guy who hustles and/or the guy who has carved out superior position. Love can do both.

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